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Genetic Polymorphisms in Prehistoric Pacific Islanders Determined by Analysis of Ancient Bone DNA

E. Hagelberg and J. B. Clegg
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 252, No. 1334 (May 22, 1993), pp. 163-170
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/49647
Page Count: 8
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Genetic Polymorphisms in Prehistoric Pacific Islanders Determined by Analysis of Ancient Bone DNA
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Abstract

A previously characterized Asian-specific mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) length mutation has been detected in DNA isolated from prehistoric human bones from Polynesia, including Hawaii, Chatham Islands and Society Islands. In contrast, the Asian mutation was absent in skeletal samples from the Melanesian archipelagos of New Britain and Vanuatu and in the oldest samples from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa in the central Pacific (2700-1600 years BP) although it was present in a more recent prehistoric sample from Tonga. These results, augmented by informative DNA sequence data from the hypervariable region of mtDNA, fail to support current views that the central Pacific was settled directly by voyagers from island Southeast Asia, the putative ancestors of modern Polynesians. An earlier occupation by peoples from the neighbouring Melanesian archipelagos seems more likely.

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