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Genetic isolation of Australian Aboriginals?

  1. Mar 23, 2010 #1
    Has anyone ever studied the question of how long the native Australians were genetically isolated from the rest of the world, or if they ever even were genetically isolated? I'm just wondering how much genetic distance separated the Europeans from the Aboriginals when they finally met a few hundred years ago.

    Ok, I fear to ask this question because of sounding racist, so I'll say up front: I'm a chimp and happy about it, and happy to be a part of the whole web of life on Earth. I love everyone (or hate everyone, depending on whether I've been flamed recently) equally. Well, maybe a bit more love for myself than for anyone else. Not. A. Racist.

    So I heard that humans had reached Australia by about 50k years ago, but then "anatomically modern" Cro-Magnons date back only 40k years. What I'm wondering is how it's possible for Europeans to have children with Australian natives, when I'm pretty sure that wolves can't have pups with domestic dogs, and their genetic separation is only a couple of thousand years (I think?).

    Please don't slam me. I'm naive, but not a racist. Their ways might even be better than mine; maybe they don't run around asking dumb questions and worrying about being yelled at.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2010 #2
    I watched a documentary on this exact issue, but I'm not an expert. I will accurately report with the documentary said.

    - Common sense would tell you that aboriginies were genetically separated from the rest of the world as AUS was separated from Asia by an expanse of sea.
    However, genetically, it has been shown:
    - Whites and Aboriginies branch off the same "tree", this was shown through genetics.
    - Africans are more time-dislocated from Whites than Aboriginies are from Whites. (I don't want to say genetically dislocated because I read that the genetic differences are extremely menial).

    The documentary states that a possibility is that they took a raft over to Australia... They spent 10 minutes showing it was possible using only antural stuff to build a raft that could go 15% of the distance or something. Yeah I know what you're thinking.

    In your comparison of wolves evolution to human evolution, read up on punctuated equilibrium. I think the overriding consensus is that gradual evolution does not/barely occur, which would explain why any large differences in different races are, on a genetic level, non existent, even if separated by X0,000 years.
  4. Mar 23, 2010 #3
    Please, tell me the name of the documentary, or who did it, or any clue you can recall so I can watch it. Thanks!
  5. Mar 23, 2010 #4
  6. Mar 23, 2010 #5
    If you can find it, I'd be interested too.
  7. Mar 25, 2010 #6
    Homo sapiens are a species. All humans alive to day are the same species (homo sapiens). Homo sapiens have been around for about two hundred thousand years. A definition for species is is that of a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring of both genders. You may be confused by the many races of the world. There are many races of the world but they are all homo sapions. The neanderthal was a species that died out about thirty thousrand years and experts are not sure wheather they coud breed with homo sapiens. I think there is a lot of people that get race mixed up with species. It is good that you ask this question
  8. Mar 25, 2010 #7


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    Humans reach Oz about 40-50K, the oldest Cro-Magnon 'remains' found are about 40K but that doesn't mean there aren't older ones.

    Also species gets a bit blurred - humans are a gradually change from the earliest homonids to 'modern' man - there isn't a point where we suddenly became cro-magnon. Really labels like habalis/cro-magnon/sapiens are more a culture thing than a genetic break.

    Interbreeding is an interesting technical question, whether two different species can breed is difficult to predict. Lions and tigers are evolutionarily very different yet can interbreed reasonably well. Chimps and bonobos which are so similar that we only just realised they are different species - apparently can't.

    It is an interesting quirk of human genetics that groups separated by such a large fraction of our total time as a species can easily interbreed.
  9. Jul 12, 2010 #8
    Current thinking is that we are a subspecies H.sapien.sapien and that neandertals are h.sapien,neandertal. This is based on the fossilized cross-bred hybrid boy found in Portugal which was dated at approximately 24kya.

    Suggest you check out https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/index.html"

    Also, Becoming Human at "www.becominghuman.org/"[/URL]

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  10. Jul 14, 2010 #9
    Well, Whites and Aboriginies branch off the same "tree", this was shown through genetics.
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