Extra! Korea

December 13, 2009

Genetics Study: All East Asians probably migrated from Southeast Asia upwards

Filed under: languages, science — extrakorea @ 11:26 pm

The Korea Herald has an article about a recent study, published in Science magazine on Dec 10, that indicates that all Asians migrated from Southeast Asia upwards. It contradicts theories that there had been multiple migration flows from both northern and southern routes.

The analyses proposed a model in which ancestors of today’s Asian populations arrived first in India before migrating to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. From there, it suggested groups traveled north, mixing with the populations already living in these regions.

This accordingly suggested the ancestors of Koreans, Chinese and Japanese to be the latest to settle in East Asia. The study also revealed no meaningful genetic differences between the three ethnic groups, which together make up 1.5 billion people.

The study’s conclusions are supported by linguistic studies.

Scientists also disclosed the corresponding relationship between genetic ancestry and language groups.

“Our results show that genetic ancestry is strongly correlated with linguistic affiliations as well as geography. Most populations show relatedness within ethnic/linguistic groups, despite prevalent gene flow among populations,” they wrote.

The study found that, as expected, individuals who were from the same region, or who shared a common language also had a great deal in common genetically.
(from the BBC)

This study has been described as “[T]he first comprehensive study of genetic diversity and history of Asian populations”.

Dr. [Edison] Liu [executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore and president of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO)] said that it was “good news” that populations throughout Asia are genetically similar.

This knowledge will aid future genetic studies in the continent and help in the design of medicines to treat diseases that Asian populations might be at a higher risk of.

And the discovery of this common genetic heritage, he added, was a “reassuring social message”, that “robbed racism of much biological support”.

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