Prehistoric voyages in Pacific possible, scientists find genetic evidence – Republic World – Republic World


Researchers have found new evidence suggesting that there were voyages between the American continent and eastern Polynesia in ancient times. As per their research, DNA analysis of inhabitants has shown mixing of genes of both native Americans and Polynesians around 1200 AD.

The travel between the Native American population and Polynesians has been a topic of debate since decades. Supports have said that Americans had reached the island much before Europeans highlighting common culture elements and linguistic similarities. Opponents have constantly argued that both the landmasses are separated by thousands of kilometres of the open ocean.

In 1947, to prove that a voyage was possible, a Norwegian explorer made a journey by raft from South America to Polynesia.  However, the latest research relies on genetic evidence to prove that a voyage was possible.  

Led by Alexander Ioannidis from Stanford University, California, a team of scientists analyzed genetic data from more than 800 indigenous inhabitants of coastal South America and French Polynesia. They were looking for DNA inherited from the same ancestor many generations ago.

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‘identical by descent’

The result confirmed that there were ‘identical by descent’ DNA ancestry across Polynesian nations. In addition, it also suggested that there a was single share contact event between the two communities at some point in time. Later, the statistical analysis confirmed that the event happened in AD 1200 about time Pacific islands were originally being settled by Polynesians.

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The researchers also traced native American DNA as far as Colombia. The revealed that there were high chances that Polynesian navigator reached South America rather than the American crossing the ocean. They added that the Polynesians would sail upwind while trying to discover new ideas because if they did found something, could return home swiftly.

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