Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences from the first New Zealanders.
ABSTRACT: The dispersal of modern humans across the globe began ~65,000 y ago when people first left Africa and culminated with the settlement of East Polynesia, which occurred in the last 1,000 y. With the arrival of Polynesian canoes only 750 y ago, Aotearoa/New Zealand became the last major landmass to be permanently settled by humans. We present here complete mitochondrial genome sequences of the likely founding population of Aotearoa/New Zealand recovered from the archaeological site of Wairau Bar. These data represent complete mitochondrial genome sequences from ancient Polynesian voyagers and provide insights into the genetic diversity of human populations in the Pacific at the time of the settlement of East Polynesia.
Project description:Human settlement of Polynesia was a major event in world prehistory. Despite the vastness of the distances covered, research suggests that prehistoric Polynesian populations maintained spheres of continuing interaction for at least some period of time in some regions. A low level of genetic variation in ancestral Polynesian populations, genetic admixture (both prehistoric and post-European contact), and severe population crashes resulting from introduction of European diseases make it difficult to trace prehistoric human mobility in the region by using only human genetic and morphological markers. We focus instead on an animal that accompanied the ancestral Polynesians on their voyages. DNA phylogenies derived from mitochondrial control-region sequences of Pacific rats (Rattus exulans) from east Polynesia are presented. A range of specific hypotheses regarding the degree of interaction within Polynesia are tested. These include the issues of multiple contacts between central east Polynesia and the geographically distinct archipelagos of New Zealand and Hawaii. Results are inconsistent with models of Pacific settlement involving substantial isolation after colonization and confirm the value of genetic studies on commensal species for elucidating the history of human settlement.
Project description:Debate about initial human migration across the immense area of East Polynesia has focused upon seafaring technology, both of navigation and canoe capabilities, while temporal variation in sailing conditions, notably through climate change, has received less attention. One model of Polynesian voyaging observes that as tradewind easterlies are currently dominant in the central Pacific, prehistoric colonization canoes voyaging eastward to and through central East Polynesia (CEP: Society, Tuamotu, Marquesas, Gambier, Southern Cook, and Austral Islands) and to Easter Island probably had a windward capacity. Similar arguments have been applied to voyaging from CEP to New Zealand against prevailing westerlies. An alternative view is that migration required reliable off-wind sailing routes. We investigate the marine climate and potential voyaging routes during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), A.D. 800-1300, when the initial colonization of CEP and New Zealand occurred. Paleoclimate data assimilation is used to reconstruct Pacific sea level pressure and wind field patterns at bidecadal resolution during the MCA. We argue here that changing wind field patterns associated with the MCA provided conditions in which voyaging to and from the most isolated East Polynesian islands, New Zealand, and Easter Island was readily possible by off-wind sailing. The intensification and poleward expansion of the Pacific subtropical anticyclone culminating in A.D. 1140-1260 opened an anomalous climate window for off-wind sailing routes to New Zealand from the Southern Austral Islands, the Southern Cook Islands, and Tonga/Fiji Islands.
Project description:The pristine island ecosystems of East Polynesia were among the last places on Earth settled by prehistoric people, and their colonization triggered a devastating transformation. Overhunting contributed to widespread faunal extinctions and the decline of marine megafauna, fires destroyed lowland forests, and the introduction of the omnivorous Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) led to a new wave of predation on the biota. East Polynesian islands preserve exceptionally detailed records of the initial prehistoric impacts on highly vulnerable ecosystems, but nearly all such studies are clouded by persistent controversies over the timing of initial human colonization, which has resulted in proposed settlement chronologies varying from approximately 200 B.C. to 1000 A.D. or younger. Such differences underpin radically divergent interpretations of human dispersal from West Polynesia and of ecological and social transformation in East Polynesia and ultimately obfuscate the timing and patterns of this process. Using New Zealand as an example, we provide a reliable approach for accurately dating initial human colonization on Pacific islands by radiocarbon dating the arrival of the Pacific rat. Radiocarbon dates on distinctive rat-gnawed seeds and rat bones show that the Pacific rat was introduced to both main islands of New Zealand approximately 1280 A.D., a millennium later than previously assumed. This matches with the earliest-dated archaeological sites, human-induced faunal extinctions, and deforestation, implying there was no long period of invisibility in either the archaeological or palaeoecological records.
Project description:<h4>Background and aims</h4>Paper mulberry or Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) L'Hér. ex Vent. (Moraceae) is a dioecious species native to continental South-east Asia and East Asia, including Taiwan, that was introduced to the Pacific by pre-historic voyagers and transported intentionally and propagated asexually across the full range of Austronesian expansion from Taiwan to East Polynesia. The aim of this study was to gain insight into the dispersal of paper mulberry into Oceania through the genetic analysis of herbaria samples which represent a more complete coverage of the historical geographical range of the species in the Pacific before later introductions and local extinctions occurred.<h4>Methods</h4>DNA from 47 herbarium specimens of B. papyrifera collected from 1882 to 2006 from different islands of the Pacific was obtained under ancient DNA protocols. Genetic characterization was based on the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer ITS-1 sequence, a sex marker, the chloroplast ndhF-rpl32 intergenic spacer and a set of ten microsatellites developed for B. papyrifera.<h4>Key results</h4>Microsatellites allowed detection of 15 genotypes in Near and Remote Oceanian samples, in spite of the vegetative propagation of B. papyrifera in the Pacific. These genotypes are structured in two groups separating West and East Polynesia, and place Pitcairn in a pivotal position. We also detected the presence of male plants that carry the Polynesian chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) haplotype, in contrast to findings in contemporary B. papyrifera populations where only female plants bear the Polynesian cpDNA haplotype.<h4>Conclusions</h4>For the first time, genetic diversity was detected among paper mulberry accessions from Remote Oceania. A clear separation between West and East Polynesia was found that may be indicative of pulses during its dispersal history. The pattern linking the genotypes within Remote Oceania reflects the importance of central Polynesia as a dispersal hub, in agreement with archaeological evidence.
Project description:HLA class I molecules and killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) form a diverse system of ligands and receptors that individualize human immune systems in ways that improve the survival of individuals and populations. Human settlement of Oceania by island-hopping East and Southeast Asian migrants started ~3,500 years ago. Subsequently, New Zealand was reached ~750 years ago by ancestral M?ori. To examine how this history impacted KIR and HLA diversity, and their functional interaction, we defined at high resolution the allelic and haplotype diversity of the 13 expressed KIR genes in 49 M?ori and 34 Polynesians. Eighty KIR variants, including four 'new' alleles, were defined, as were 35 centromeric and 22 telomeric KIR region haplotypes, which combine to give >50 full-length KIR haplotypes. Two new and divergent variant KIR form part of a telomeric KIR haplotype, which appears derived from Papua New Guinea and was probably obtained by the Asian migrants en route to Polynesia. M?ori and Polynesian KIR are very similar, but differ significantly from African, European, Japanese, and Amerindian KIR. M?ori and Polynesians have high KIR haplotype diversity with corresponding allotype diversity being maintained throughout the KIR locus. Within the population, each individual has a unique combination of HLA class I and KIR. Characterizing M?ori and Polynesians is a paucity of HLA-B allotypes recognized by KIR. Compensating for this deficiency are high frequencies (>50 %) of HLA-A allotypes recognized by KIR. These HLA-A allotypes are ones that modern humans likely acquired from archaic humans at a much earlier time.
Project description:Direct evidence of the environmental impact of human colonization and subsequent human adaptational responses to new environments is extremely rare anywhere in the world. New Zealand was the last Polynesian island group to be settled by humans, who arrived around the end of the 13th century AD. Little is known about the nature of human adaptation and mobility during the initial phase of colonization. We report the results of the isotopic analysis (carbon, nitrogen and strontium) of the oldest prehistoric skeletons discovered in New Zealand to assess diet and migration patterns. The isotope data show that the culturally distinctive burials, Group 1, had similar diets and childhood origins, supporting the assertion that this group was distinct from Group 2/3 and may have been part of the initial colonizing population at the site. The Group 2/3 individuals displayed highly variable diets and likely lived in different regions of the country before their burial at Wairau Bar, supporting the archaeological evidence that people were highly mobile in New Zealand since the initial phase of human settlement.
Project description:The Cook Islands are considered the "gateway" for human colonization of East Polynesia, the final chapter of Oceanic settlement and the last major region occupied on Earth. Indeed, East Polynesia witnessed the culmination of the greatest maritime migration in human history. Perennial debates have critiqued whether Oceanic settlement was purposeful or accidental, the timing and pathways of colonization, and the nature and extent of postcolonization voyaging-essential for small founding groups securing a lifeline between parent and daughter communities. Centering on the well-dated Tangatatau rockshelter, Mangaia, Southern Cook Islands, we charted the temporal duration and geographic spread of exotic stone adze materials-essential woodworking tools found throughout Polynesia- imported for more than 300 y beginning in the early AD 1300s. Using a technique requiring only 200 mg of sample for the geochemical analysis of trace elements and isotopes of fine-grained basalt adzes, we assigned all artifacts to an island or archipelago of origin. Adze material was identified from the chiefly complex on the Austral Islands, from the major adze quarry complex on Tutuila (Samoa), and from the Marquesas Islands more than 2,400 km distant. This interaction is the only dated example of down-the-line exchange in central East Polynesia where intermediate groups transferred commodities attesting to the interconnectedness and complexity of social relations fostered during postsettlement voyaging. For the Cook Islands, this exchange may have lasted into the 1600s, at least a century later than other East Polynesian archipelagos, suggesting that interarchipelago interaction contributed to the later development of social hierarchies.
Project description:The 15 archipelagos of East Polynesia, including New Zealand, Hawaii, and Rapa Nui, were the last habitable places on earth colonized by prehistoric humans. The timing and pattern of this colonization event has been poorly resolved, with chronologies varying by >1000 y, precluding understanding of cultural change and ecological impacts on these pristine ecosystems. In a meta-analysis of 1,434 radiocarbon dates from the region, reliable short-lived samples reveal that the colonization of East Polynesia occurred in two distinct phases: earliest in the Society Islands A.D. ?1025-1120, four centuries later than previously assumed; then after 70-265 y, dispersal continued in one major pulse to all remaining islands A.D. ?1190-1290. We show that previously supported longer chronologies have relied upon radiocarbon-dated materials with large sources of error, making them unsuitable for precise dating of recent events. Our empirically based and dramatically shortened chronology for the colonization of East Polynesia resolves longstanding paradoxes and offers a robust explanation for the remarkable uniformity of East Polynesian culture, human biology, and language. Models of human colonization, ecological change and historical linguistics for the region now require substantial revision.
Project description:The human settlement of the Pacific in general, and the origin of the Polynesians in particular, have been topics of debate for over two centuries. Polynesian origins are most immediately traced to people who arrived in the Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa region approximately 3,000 B.P. and are clearly associated with the Lapita Cultural Complex. Although this scenario of the immediate origins of the Polynesians is generally accepted, the debate on the ultimate origin of the Polynesians and the Lapita cultural complex continues. Our previous research has shown that analyses of mtDNA variation in the Pacific rat (Rattus exulans), often transported as a food item in the colonizing canoes, are valuable for tracing prehistoric human migration within Polynesia. Here we present mtDNA phylogenies based on approximately 240 base pairs of the d-loop from both archaeological and modern samples collected from Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific. We identify three major haplogroups, two of which occur in the Pacific. Comparing our results with Lapita models of Oceanic settlement, we are able to reject two often cited but simplistic models, finding support instead for multifaceted models incorporating a more complex view of the Lapita intrusion. This study is unique and valuable in that R. exulans is the only organism associated with the Lapita dispersal for which there are sufficient ancient and extant populations available for genetic analysis. By tracking population changes through time, we can understand more fully the settlement process and population interactions in both Near and Remote Oceania.
Project description:First settlement of Polynesia, and population expansion throughout the ancestral Polynesian homeland are foundation events for global history. A precise chronology is paramount to informed archaeological interpretation of these events and their consequences. Recently applied chronometric hygiene protocols excluding radiocarbon dates on wood charcoal without species identification all but eliminates this chronology as it has been built for the Kingdom of Tonga, the initial islands to be settled in Polynesia. In this paper we re-examine and redevelop this chronology through application of Bayesian models to the questioned suite of radiocarbon dates, but also incorporating short-lived wood charcoal dates from archived samples and high precision U/Th dates on coral artifacts. These models provide generation level precision allowing us to track population migration from first Lapita occupation on the island of Tongatapu through Tonga's central and northern island groups. They further illustrate an exceptionally short duration for the initial colonizing Lapita phase and a somewhat abrupt transition to ancestral Polynesian society as it is currently defined.