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Am J Hum Genet. 2003 May;72(5):1282-7. Epub 2003 Mar 18.

Native American Y chromosomes in Polynesia: the genetic impact of the Polynesian slave trade.

Author information

  • 1McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. meh32@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

Since Thor Heyerdahl asserted that Polynesia was first colonized from the Americas (Heyerdahl 1950), geneticists have sought--but have not found--any evidence to support his theories. Here, Native American Y chromosomes are detected on the Polynesian island of Rapa. However, this, together with other odd features of the island's Y-chromosomal gene pool, is best explained as the genetic impact of a 19th century Peruvian slave trade in Polynesia. These findings underscore the need to account for history before turning to prehistory and the value of archival research to understanding modern genetic diversity. Although the impact of the Atlantic slave trade on the distribution of modern genetic diversity has been well appreciated, this represents the first study investigating the impact of this underappreciated episode on genetic diversity in the Pacific.

PMID:
12644966
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1180280
Free PMC Article

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