DNA reveals long-time Aboriginal connection to land

Researchers have unearthed proof of the geographic diversity of Aboriginal people prior to European arrival.

A study conducted by the University of Adelaide tested historic hair samples, and found that once migrating  50,000 years ago, Aboriginal people spread quickly around the west and east coasts of Australia. These settlements remained until the disruption of Europeans a few hundred years ago.

The research was based on hair collected with permission by scientists between the 1920s and 1960s, the DNA profiles of which allowed researchers to understand the genetic diversity of Aboriginal people. This painted a picture of where Aboriginals lived prior to their mass forced relocation. Upon arrival in Australia, two distinct groups moved around the coasts, one clockwise and one counter-clockwise. The two met in South Australia. This process took roughly 2,000-3,000 years, but once it had happened groups stayed in their spaces for up to 50,000 years, despite large environmental shifts.

Research was conducted with a heavy emphasis on ethics, with researchers talking to Aboriginal participants and descendents about possible issues within the research, and answering any questions.  

To read more about the study and how it was conducted, visit http://theconversation.com/dna-reveals-aboriginal-people-had-a-long-and-settled-connection-to-country-73958