CLUES about how the first Aborigines arrived in Australia have been unveiled by Indian scientists. Based on a series of genetic tests, they believe Aborigines travelled from Africa to Australia via India.

Dr Raghavendra Rao and researchers from the Indian-government backed Anthropological Survey of India project found unique genetic mutations were shared between modern-day Indians and Aborigines, suggesting Australia's indigenous people had spent time on the subcontinent.

The scientists did genetic tests on 966 individuals from 26 of India's "relic populations" and identified seven people from central Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic tribes who shared genetic traits only found in Aborigines. "We found certain mutations in the DNA sequences of the Indian tribes … that are specific to Aborigines," Dr Rao said.

"This … suggests that the Aborigine population migrated to Australia via the so-called southern route."

Scientists believe the first modern humans began spreading around the world from Africa about 50,000 years ago. But little is known about which routes they took.

Some studies have suggested they used a single southern route stretching from the Horn of Africa, across the Red Sea into Arabia and southern Asia.

They were then believed to have moved along the coastlines of southern Asia, South-East Asia and Indonesia before arriving in Australia about 45,000 years ago.

Dr Rao said the new research, published by the online scientific journal BMC Evolutionary Biology yesterday, indicated there was direct DNA evidence about how modern humans spread from Africa 50,000 years ago. "In this respect, populations in the Indian subcontinent harbour DNA footprints of the earliest expansion out of Africa," he said.
http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/well...0722-dtnh.html