October 04, 2016
Skeletons yield Maori DNA secrets
Research into Polynesian origins could lead to new approaches to treating health problems like obesity and diabetes.
Massey University Professor Murray Cox is part of an international study that sequenced ancient DNA from 3000-year-old skeletons in Vanuatu and Tonga.
It confirmed the earliest ancestors of Maori and Pasifika were Asian farming groups.
Later skeletons have some Papuan DNA, but Professor Cox says it’s likely that’s from Papuan men who ventured into Oceania and married resident Asian women.
He says knowing the genomic make up is important because some of the genetic variations caused by such population mixing could be linked to health.
The paper Ancient genomics and the peopling of the Southwest Pacific was published in the international journal Nature this week.
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