In DepthPOPULATION GENETICS

Papua New Guinea's genetic diversity withstood farming

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Science  15 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6356, pp. 1086
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6356.1086

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Summary

The people on the island of New Guinea speak more than 850 languages, and now, researchers have found in a new study on p. 1160 that this remarkable genetic diversity is reflected by real genetic differences. More unexpected, the team concludes that this genetic variation dates back just 10,000 years, to a time when people began farming in the highlands, rather than to 50,000 years ago or so when humans first arrived on the island. The timing suggests that the invention of agriculture, which occurred independently in the New Guinea highlands from other parts of the world, did not permanently wipe out local genetic differences, as it did in Europe or parts of Asia.