Vanuatu People

The Vanuatu people

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Vanuatu and Tonga's first humans revelled themselves

Vanuatu and Tonga's first residents were unveiled in a surprising finding by ANU archeologists in the first large trial of old Pacific Island genome of aDNA. Vanuatu's first humans came from Taiwan and the Philippines 3,000 years ago, and not from the neighboring Australian-Papuan population of Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, who have been in the area for 40,000 to 50,000 years, according to a survey recently released in the trade magazine Nature.

Investigator Professor Matthew Spriggs said the finding was corroborated after aDNA analysis was performed on three skeletal specimens unearthed from the oldest known graveyard of the Pacific island of Lapita Civilization near Port Vila in Vanuatu. "Vanuatu people today are mostly Asian. These came directly from Taiwan and perhaps the North Philippines," said Professor Spriggs of the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the College of Arts and Social Sciences.

"but when they got to Vanuatu, there was no one there. Those are the first people. "They married the Papua people only some years later to create the genetics we see today in Vanuatu and even across the Pacific. Nowadays all Pacific Islanders are a blend of these Asiatic and Papuans population.

" Old Tongan graveyard specimen confirms that the same group of people became the first residents of Tonga a short time later. "He said, "We know this because tests carried out by two different labs in the USA and Germany prove that the specimens come from the same people.

Skeleton specimens from Vanuatu were unearthed as part of an Australian Research Council sponsored dig carried out by Professor Spriggs and Dr. Stuart Bedford of the School of Culture, History and Language (CHL), College of Asia-Pacific at ANU, in collaboration with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. Tongan excavations were led by Associate Professor Geoffrey Clark, also from CHL, ANU.

The debate about the origin of the Pacific Islanders has been going on for hundreds of years, especially about the Lapita people who first colonized the island from Vanuatu to Tonga. "A particularly conspicuous feature is the different lineage of the male sex hormone which is mainly passed on by women," says Dr. Pontus Skoglund from Harvard Medical School and Stockholm University.

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