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WELLCOME TRUST SANGER INSTITUTE—The first large-scale genetic study of people in Papua New Guinea has shown that different groups within the country are genetically highly different from each other. Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their colleagues at the University of Oxford and the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research reveal that the people there have remained genetically independent from Europe and Asia for most of the last 50,000 years, and that people from the country's isolated highlands region have been completely independent even until the present day.
Reported today (15 September) in Science, the study also gives insights into how the development of agriculture and cultural events such as the Bronze or Iron Age could affect the genetic structure of human societies.
Papua - New - Guinea - Country - Pacific
Papua New Guinea is a country in the southwestern Pacific with some of the earliest archaeological evidence of human existence outside Africa. Largely free from Western influence and with fascinating cultural diversity, it has been of enormous interest to anthropologists and other scientists seeking to understand human cultures and evolution.
With approximately 850 domestic languages, which account for over 10 per cent of the world's total, Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country in the world. To discover if the linguistic and cultural diversity was echoed in the genetic structure of the population, researchers studied the genomes of 381 Papuan New Guinean people from 85 different language groups within the country.
Researchers - Positions - Genome - Individual - Similarities
The researchers looked at more than a million genetic positions in the genome of each individual, and compared them to investigate genetic similarities and differences. They found that groups of people speaking different languages were surprisingly genetically distinct from each other.
Anders Bergström, the first author on the paper from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: "This is the first large-scale study of genetic diversity and...
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