Who’s on first?

There’s a new paper out on the people of the Americas, by Pontus Skoglund and David Reich. The main picture is solidifying:

The main Amerindian migration consists of a population that is approximately 40% ancient Siberian and 60% Han-like. Calculations that assumed a simple split between the ancestors of the Han and Amerindians are wrong and probably placed too far back (~23,000 years BP). They don’t mention it, but the uniparental lineages suggest that ANE guys ran off with some sobbin’ proto-Han women, much like the formation story for the Indo-Europeans.

There was some substructure: the two main streams are the Amerindians of South and Central America and northern Amerindians like Cree and Algonquins. Interestingly, the only Clovis skeleton we have is genetically closer to the southerners.

The paleo-Eskimos (Dorset culture) come from a later, separate migration (~4500 years ago), similar to Koryak and Chukchi, but were completely replaced by the Thule culture (current Eskimos) ~1000 years ago.

The Na-Dene (Navajo for example) also came late: they might be from the same stream that led to the Dorset, but they might stem from another migration. Better samples from more populations should soon resolve this. Since Na-Dene languages can be related to Ket using standard methods, it can’t have been all that long ago – more like 4 or 5 thousand, rather than 8 or 9.

According to this paper, the Andamanese-like admixure is found only east of the Andes in South America, apparently concentrated in the Tupi language family. Not in the Eskimos, not in central America, not in Canada, not in the one Clovis skeleton we have, which has affinities to the Central/South America branch. Not in Tierra del Fuego, not in Baja California.

I think this strong pattern significantly increases the probability of the scenario in which a vaguely Andamanese-like population gets to the Americas first, maybe 18k years ago, came by sea and settled Brazil, which was decent hunter-gatherer territory (savannahs and open woodland), not ice/polar desert/taiga like North America. Then was replaced, with a little admixture, by a classic Amerindian population. I would guess that the authors think so too: they’re treating this scenario with more respect than in the earlier paper. They mention the odd-looking early skeletons in Brazil.

We need ancient DNA to seal the deal, but that may come.

Why didn’t these Andamanese-like guys drive extinctions? Cause the megafaunal extinctions are a good deal later. I’m guessing that they were originally fishermen and beachcombers, not hard-case hunters of big mammals like the Amerindians in Beringia. Modern humans didn’t cause instant extinctions in Africa (only some things) but the animals there had a long time to adapt to people, while sleeping sickness eventually created people-free zones. . South America wasn’t like that – why didn’t these Andamanese wipe out the big game? Well, from what we know they weren’t very good at dealing with Amerindians – and related populations in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and Indonesia also lost out to Han-like invaders.

Yet even the Australian aborigines seemed to have wiped out the Australian megafauna pretty rapidly… In our scenario, why didn’t the pseudo-Andamanese?

Something limited their ecological dominance.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

168 Responses to Who’s on first?

  1. Eugine_Nier says:

    The Andamanese presumably used Pacific islands as way stations. Is there any evidence any of them survived on these islands long until the Polynesians arrived?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Obviously they didn’t, since there is no sign of old human occupation of any islands in the Pacific, other then the Solomons.

      • Jim says:

        Guam was probably the first of the remote Pacific Islands to be inhabited. The archaeological evidence indicates the first settlers were there by 1000 BC or maybe even somewhat earlier. They moved rapidly up the Marianas but never crossed the gap to the Volcano Islands. They were from the Philippines based on their culture and language. For some reason Yap and Palau were skipped over at first and settled later.

  2. Spandrell says:

    So these Andamanites sailed from West Africa? Or perhaps Iberia?

  3. rzg says:

    Have a look at page 3, on cranial morphology.

    Aus Abo’s are similar, so it’s not an explanation. But it’s a data point.

  4. Stephen W says:

    Presumably this would be from a single storm driven raft rather than a planned migration so perhaps they where extremely inbred and stupid, and lost a lot of techno knowledge like the Abo-Tasmanians except in a single stranded generation.

    • It could have been very sporadic landings of an occasional storm driven raft. We know that cousin marriage lowers IQ 6 points or so, if they were quite a bit more inbred than the children of first cousins then you have a logical explanation as to why they were not very successful at big game hunting.

      I am guessing that they got there a lot earlier than 18,000 years ago but were so inbred that they stuck to beach combing and did not leave stone tools. There are some scattered indications of that but they have always been dismissed as impossible. Before the findings of Reich and company it was always argued humans did not get to the Americas much earlier than when we find stone tools and see extinction events of big tasty animals that did not recognize humans as an enemy, and therefore did not run away from them. I thought so too, but now we have another explanation of why these first arrivers to the Americas did not behave or breed like humans have the world over when they get to new lands. Serious inbreeding.

      • Boris Bartlog says:

        Except that inbreeding eventually sorts itself out, if your population gets big enough for long enough. It doesn’t last for hundreds of generations unless something is keeping your population very small (and in such cases I would expect extinction).

        • Good points but what if this population had such a severe bottleneck that they lost a number of genes that have a small positive effect on intelligence. In that case they might be very dim even when inbreeding sorts itself out.

  5. et.cetera says:

    Because they were manlets. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

  6. dearieme says:

    “the Andamanese-like admixure is found only east of the Andes in South America”: they crossed the Pacific somehow, then went to the trouble of scaling the Andes, abandoning the fishing waters of the Pacific Coast, because they somehow intuited that there would be savannahs beyond, even though as fisher folk they might not be well suited to savannah life anyway.

    I know that far-fetched things must happen sometimes, but that takes some believing.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Since it looks as if the Amerindian population along the Pacific coast of South America went extinct after Columbus, or nearly so, there might have been an Andamanese signature there that no longer exists.

      • Frank says:

        The ancient DNA shows that ~90% of mtDNA lineages died out (using a pretty small sample number of ancients from a few locations). This is hardly the same as saying that the populations went extinct.

        • gcochran9 says:

          I read the recent paper in Science on ancient Amerindian mtDNA, and discussed it. None of the ancient DNA samples had descendants or close relatives today.

          • Frank says:

            OK. I re-read that paper.

            So the coastal population of Peru was nearly wiped out. That doesn’t really change the issue at hand, as this has nothing to do with the component that we are talking about.

            In fact, all of the whole genome ancient DNA pre-Colombian sequences from South America (including those selected because they were suspected ‘paleo-Americans’) turned out to not have this signal at all.

            There is zero evidence that this component was not part of a small admixed Earliest Amerindian wave from Beringia that moved fast along the coast, but was quickly replaced by larger populations without that admixture.

      • epoch2013 says:

        Couldn’t the population of the Andamanese mystery pop have lived on the coastline, the Tupi speaking Indians coming from the north picked some of their DNA up before moving over the Andes? Because that may explain the Megafauna survival: The Andamanese mystery pop simply weren’t in the neighbourhood. The bad part is the Brazilian odd-looking skeleton are still unexplained.

        • Normandie Kent says:

          It has been explained. Kenniwick Man, Spirit Cave Man, Naia, Anzick-1, Wizards Beach, Man, the Pericues, the Fuegans, they all had “Odd Looking Skull Shapes” the Brazilian “Luzia” who is only 11,200 years is similar to Naia of Mexico who is 13,000 years old. They are all Classified as Paleo-American, they are Ancestral to Native Americans.

    • Stephen St. Onge says:

      You’re wrong about the Andes. You should have examined some maps.

      The Continental Divide in Central America is VERY low in both Southern Nicaraugua/Northern Costa Rica and in Panama. If you’ve reached either area by boat, it’s easy to cross the divide in Nicarauga on foot, or in Panama by going up either the Caimito or the Grande river a way, and walking across the divide. You can reach the Carribean by Lake Nicaragua and the San Juan river, or by the Chagres in Panama.

      Easy trips for anyone who could reach the region in the first place.

      • Stephen St. Onge says:

        I should modify this by remarking that Pacific Coast was further west and south then today. But these areas would have had rivers leading towards the divide.

        The main point remains: based on modern topographic maps, any group that could migrate down the coast could easily have spread up the rivers, and there they’d be able to cross the divide easily on foot. Once on the other side, the rivers would lead to the Carribean. From there they could easily migrate along the coast, and thus end up in Brazil. This idea they migrated over the Andes from Peru is quite unnecessary.

  7. dearieme says:

    WKPD: “The Andamans are theorized to be a key stepping stone in a great coastal migration of humans from Africa via the Arabian peninsula, along the coastal regions of the Indian mainland and towards Southeast Asia, Japan and Oceania.” Maybe Spandrell is right: some Andamese-like people crossed the Atlantic from Africa. But does that mean that they hadn’t evolved much between the great emigration from Africa and their own departure in the other direction?

    • dearieme says:

      Is there any sign of surviving Andamese-like people in Africa?

    • Sandgroper says:

      They didn’t migrate to the Andaman Islands from the Indian mainland, but rather from SE Asia. I don’t know how that helps, except to show that they need not have had any particularly impressive seafaring skills/technology.

    • ohwilleke says:

      Geographically, the Andamans are a dead end detour, not a stepping stone, and those islands probably weren’t settled until the LGM. Also, given that the Andamanese lack Denisovan admixture, they very likely were not the first wave of modern humans in Southeast Asia.

      • roger erickson says:

        “Andamanese lack Denisovan admixture”

        that seems significant; is that true of the “negritos” scattered in other settlements, all the way to the Philippines?

    • sansdomino says:

      A possibility is that the out-of-Africa migration that the current Andamanese are a small remnant of also spread across parts of Africa (counterclockwise along the northern and western coast?), with later Africa-internal migrations then steamrolling over them — much as happened, and is still happening, in Southeast and Southern Asia.

      I have no idea though what is known about African paleo-DNA; for all I know this idea could perhaps be already firmly ruled out.

  8. tautology123 says:

    Maybe American megafauna was more formidable. It must have been to an extent- Larger population, hence evolution is faster and you have influx from eurasia over the Bering strait. Diprodoton does not seem particularly fromidable, but Megatherium does.

    • Sandgroper says:

      Would you equally dismiss Thylacoleo carnifex and Megalania as equally not particularly formidable? Megalania could presumably be dealt with by diligent watchfulness and the use of fire, but T. carnifex appears to have been an ambush hunter that dropped onto its prey from concealment in trees, had a fearsome gripping/ripping claw on each front paw, a bite more powerful than an African lion, and a set of incisors that could crush a human skull or spine with ease.

      • tautology123 says:

        You dont have to kill those you just have to kill their food better than them. I dont know how formidable Thylacoleo was but judging from how effectively other marsupials stand up to competition, I guess not at all. Varanus priscus is maybe somewhat easier to gauge: While some individuals were very large, most were not. Keeping Komodo dragons at a distance with a stick is relatively easy, so somewhat larger animals that were very sluggish, (see research on scaling in lizard locomotion) at a distance should not have been impossible. Or just eat them after a cold night.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I’m sure that it was more formidable than that of Australia: marsupials are dumb. But less formidable than that of North America or Asia or Africa.

      • tautology123 says:

        I am a bit shaky, but wasn’t the megafauna allready strongly influenced from North America?

        Phorrusracids were already gone, likely wiped out in competition with carnivorans and you had Arctotherium, Stegomastodon and the like roaming around. It seems to me that you had many mammals not that divergent (maybe on the order of 30 million years) from Eurasian clades. Compare that with Australia whos mammals had to have been independent for a very long time, maybe around 100 million years.

        I mean monitor lizards originally came from eurasia, but while everywhere else they were a nuisance, they became apex predators, despite lizard locomotion being quite ill suited for large bodies. Embarassing.

        • tautology123 says:

          Just wanted to add: I agree it was less competitive than Eurasia and NA. I just think it might have been too competive for bad hunters to exterminate.

      • ohwilleke says:

        Australia has more fauna that are extremely deadly to man than any other place on Earth. And, some of the megafauna species that were wiped out were pretty damn wicked. Also, Australia lacked the big slow moving herbivores that were common in North America or Asia or Africa, so the effort to food ratio of killing megafauna in Australia was comparatively poor.

        Increasingly, however, the narrative of megafauna extinction in Australia appears to have involved more mass kill via wildfires and less badass warrior action facing huge vicious monsters with wooden spears and rocks (although there was surely some of that as well).

  9. Frank says:

    They wouldn’t have had to have ever been living where the signal of admixture is today.

    We certainly can’t say which initial path was taken by these Amerindians that ended up having the Andaman-like ancestry in the Amazon today.

    The very tip of the first wave from Beringia could have admixed with these people at literally any point on their way there. It could have been along the North American west coast.

    Very quickly following waves of Beringians would dilute that ancestry out behind the first wave. The only place left with any of this ancestry a thousand years later would be the absolute hardest place to get to. For boat people from Alaska, that would be just east of the Andes.

    • sansdomino says:

      This might predict a testable dilution pattern of Andaman-like ancestry: if it was once present everywhere, we’d expect decreasingly smaller traces to be present in any decreasingly difficult-to-get-to places (say, Patagonia). If it was once present just in Amazonia, we’d expect the dilution to drop off to zero outside of the contact area with Beringian-derived populations.

      • gcochran9 says:

        The only Amerindian population outside of South America that shows any trace of this Andaman-like ancestry is in Panama, in a group known to have recent ancestry from South America.

  10. Abelard Lindsey says:

    Something limited their ecological dominance.


    • gcochran9 says:

      There are a number of screwy fungal diseases in the South America jungles but the only local pathogen that really causes much trouble is Chagas’s disease, which isn’t catching between people, other than blood transfusions.

  11. Grels says:

    Pre-Columbian DNA from South America. It’s taken from a population with odd-looking skeletons, but no odd DNA found. Specific mention this is unlike modern Karitiana who have an Australasian signal.


  12. Ilya says:

    So, based on the fact that this founding population was tiny, and that they weren’t smart to begin with, the inbreeding hypothesis seems like the most plausible explanation for their lack of big game hunting acumen. Couple of questions/observations: 1) do we have the rate of homozygousity from their DNA (if such is even in our possession)? 2) One would think that even with extremely high inbreeding, their high procreation would enable purging selection to a good extent, so they’d certainly would survive that bottleneck. I’d imagine, the less dumb ones made it past the Andes. 3) I imagine they also were much less adept at warfare: they didn’t need to, as a whole continent was wide open for settlement…

  13. Tim says:

    We don’t know that any of that is true. The only evidence that there might have been a population anywhere in the Americas is this tiny admixture in this location.

    There is no reason that this couldn’t have even been from structure in the first entering populations from Beringia.

      • Frank says:

        I would take that bet. It could have happened. As I said earlier, the admixture could have occurred anywhere along the path.

        How about this? We know that after a very long time in Beringia, some population(s) of Amerindians moved down the west coast before the ice sheets melted. This had to have been in boats.

        Where did they get that technology after such a long time? Why couldn’t it have been gained when a new small Andaman-like population showed up in coastal Beringia with their boats?

        They heavily admixed with the Beringians, and kept moving along the coast.

        A bit later, when an ice free passage opened up, the Americas were flooded with people having none of this ancestry.

        The only place that didn’t get totally swamped with newcomers was the Amazon.

        • gcochran9 says:

          You know, there is something magnetically attractive about thinking wrong. One of the key facts is funny looking very early skeletons in Brazil, roughly co-located with the odd genetic signature. if they have something to do with the Andamanese genetic signature, the key assumptions is that they are mostly (or all) pseudo-Andamanese, not just a little – majority, so as to look significantly different from Amerindian skeletons.

          • Frank says:

            How early and how funny looking are the Brazilian bones?

            We know that all of the other funny looking bones that have been tested ended up being 100% Amerindian with no sign of strange admixture. It is just not a strong argument anymore.

            It seems like in this case, you might be the one who is magnetically attracted about thinking wrong.

            It would be fantastic if it were true. Absolutely. But all other evidence besides this admixture points to it not being true (including your initial post), and there are other options that still make sense.

            Instead of asking why they didn’t expand their population all over the continents and kill off species, maybe you should consider it is just because they were not there to begin with. That is much easier.

            • gcochran9 says:

              The admixture evidence is solid. Start from there.

              I have a good track record on these things, often when almost everyone else was wrong. You might ask yourself why.

              • Frank says:

                I think you are a smart guy, no doubt. And I often agree with you.

                In this particular case, it is incredibly difficult to account for the lack of evidence for human occupation before a certain date.

                If the admixture were found isolated along the west coast, then maybe it would make clearer sense. But even among the 80-100 ancient mtDNA genomes from Peru, Chile and Argentina, along with a few ancient whole genomes, there is no indication that they was this admixture in those locations for the last 10,000 years.

                So either the pure populations of the Andaman-like people were in those locations earlier, and the populations were replaced by people who arrived 12,000 years ago, or they were never there.

                If they were there, and admixture occurred there (and not in the Amazon), then it could have anywhere else in the Americas, and even in Beringia.

                If admixture occurred in the Amazon, then you have to explain how they got to such a difficult place while leaving no trace anywhere along the way.

              • Frank says:

                I just went back and read several of your older posts on the Indo-European expansion. I wouldn’t say that you have that high of a track record. Whenever you get something right, you usually dismiss all the things that you got wrong as minor.

                Of course this is true of most people who constantly go out on a limb while sticking their neck out.

                You have lots of good ideas, but you (like the rest of us) are often wrong.

                The recent ancient DNA has shown that in human history, the simplest answer rarely turns out to be the correct answer.

                The simplest answer to this South American question is that a population of Andaman-like people lived in the Amazon before the Amerindians got there.

            • I am responding to Frank’s statement that “all other evidence besides this admixture points to it not being true.”

              This is false. There is a lot of skeletal evidence that the first settlers of the americas had a cranial morphology more in line with Africans, Australians and Melanesians. The best example is the second oldest skull found in the Americas nicknamed Lucia and the graveyard of 37 found close to her and of the same time period. The skulls pretty clearly indicate they did not come from the later Amerind populations that swept over the Americas. Further details are a google click away in the New York Times article titled “An ancient skull challenges long held theories.” These skulls are 12,000 years old from Brazil.

              • Matt says:

                Dave, presumably you have actually read the paper (I know Greg has) that they have taken adna from skulls (albeit not from Brazil) with the Australo-Melanesian paleo-Indian morphology and it’s not distinguished from other Native Americans. And specifically not in its relationship to the Andamanese or Papuans. Am I right in presuming that?

              • You are right, BUT no DNA has survived in the oldest skeletons from Brazil. I am simply refuting Franks contention that their is no evidence to support the an earlier arrival from another location other than Beringia. Interpretation of skulls is notoriously subject to the eye of the beholder, so without DNA it is still just a hypothesis.

              • These skulls are not older than Anzick or Naia, so it’s obvious Adamanese people were not first anywhere, there is a probability they don’t exist. All odd skull shapes tested so far are Native Americans. With all the evidence against it, you have to ask what agenda are you pushing? Is it to discredit Native Americans? Or to strip their identities as indigenous people of America, there is no evidence for other races of Negritos in America.

            • Normandie Kent says:

              It’s like people don’t want to let go of the Paleo American hypothesis, even though most of those “funny looking Skeletons” have consistently been shown to have continuity with all Native Americans north and south. It’s like they keep hoping against reason that some exotic DNA will show up someday. They have been proven wrong over and over, and still can’t accept that Native Americans are the indigenous population of America. There is no evidence otherwise.

        • Or they could of had the boat making skills from the start. We know the Chumash Indians were living on the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara California, by 14,000 years ago, they were the only North American Indians who had a true seafaring maritime culture, as opposed to Clovis culture. They were the only ones who created planked boats for deep sea fish, they traveled out 100 miles to Santa Cruz island .

      • Tim says:

        I will bet. How can you ever win?

        The only way you win is that they obtain a completely unadmixed ancient genomic DNA sequence from bones found anywhere in the Americas that match the component found in these modern people from South America?

        And for me to win I would need what? A sample from Beringia that also has this genomic signature?

        You will never win that bet.

  14. Karl Zimmerman says:

    I know there are some artifacts and remains which make archaeologists believe there was a pre-Amerind group in the Americas. But based upon the genetic data alone, isn’t the most parsimonious hypothesis that the pseudo-Andamanese arrived after the Amerinds?

    You don’t need any special hypothesis then for reduced fitness – or to explain why the admixture is only found in Amazonia, and nowhere else. Just presume some time after South America was pretty much full of Amerinds, a small group of Austro-Melanesians happened ashore somewhere – almost certainly on the Pacific coast. They might have vanished without a trace, but they happened to admix on a minor level with a population which took up horticulture and moved into the Amazon basin. Then much later comes the Columbian Exchange, with the source groups on the Pacific Coast (if they even still existed) dying out completely.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Look, there are as many Puritan-Americans as there are Italian-Americans, even though only ~20,000 Puritans ever emigrated to Massachusetts, while 4 million Italians came to the US. The Puritans got in early and had a chance to grow exponentially for centuries: this matters. One must always keep the possibility of a period of exponential growth in mind when thinking about these questions, although nobody does

      If pseudo-Andamanese are to become 2% of Amazonian ancestry, they’re not going to do it by arriving well after Amerindian colonization. One boat would be a drop in a bucket that probably contains hundreds of thousands of Brazilian Amerindians. I don’t think that Amerindian society had niches for endogamous groups of blacksmiths or fortunetellers or moneylenders, not back then in hunter-gatherer days, especially since none of those jobs existed.

      The other thing to remember is that there were no armies, no way to tap the strength of numbers of a whole population. Conflict was local. Suppose that group A had become fairly common in South America, with tens of of thousands of members, or even more. Then group B arrives, and on a local basis, beats the crap out of A. Shouldn’t population A call up ban and arrière-ban, thus defeating the newcomers through greatly superior numbers? The way in which the Neanderthals all swarmed the encroaching anatomically modern humans? Hadn’t been invented, couldn’t be done.

      Originally the Thule Eskimos must have been outnumbered by the Dorset Paleo-Eskimos. But the Thule could beat them locally: and they did so, again and again, until there weren’t any Dorset. The Thule could have admixed, at any level from a lot to zero: they apparently chose zero.

      If the ancestral Amerindians mixed wih a bit of pseudo-Andamanese much before they entered America, you’d see
      that ancestry all over the place but it’s apparently limited to eastern South America. Moreover, there are these funny-looking skeletons from early days in Brazil: they didn’t get to be funny-looking by being 2% psseudo-Andamanese.

      Whereas being 100% pseudo-Andamanese would definitely result in different-looking skeletons – while later near-total replacement by an Ameridindian group could easily result in a 2% admixture today.

      Groups like this used to live in Indonesia, before the Malays (originally from South China) came and stepped on them. I think that the admixture from the original hunter-gatherers in Indonesia is something like a few percent. Same basic story for Southeast Asia – dark short locals, Australo-Melanesians, mostly replaced by invaders from the North. In Cambodia, they admixed more: there may be as much as 20% ancestry from the previous tenants.

      Immigration is a modern thing. Conquest and slaughter (rape, pillage, then burn) was more typical in prehistory.

      • Frank says:

        “If the ancestral Amerindians mixed wih a bit of pseudo-Andamanese much before they entered America, you’d see
        that ancestry all over the place”

        Exactly! But, if the admixture wasn’t much before they entered America, and was restricted to a small coastal population, then it could make its way down the coast rapidly before any other groups could compete, but getting more and more inbred all the way.

      • Karl Zimmerman says:

        One possibility has not been disproven as of yet, AFAIK. It does seem like some of the Botocudo were Polynesians. Interestingly this was also in Brazil, along with being on the “wrong” side of the continent from where you’d expect Polynesians. They certainly were post-Columbian, but were dated to a time before any Polynesians were brought to South America via the slave trade, meaning they presumably hoofed it the long way, over the Andes. Perhaps they were traveling during a time that plagues had disrupted the population centers of South America already however, which would have made the journey easier.

        Regardless, I know the original paper said the admixture could be no more recent than 4,000 years ago. But is it possible it’s actually catching the admixture date of Austro-Melanesians into the Polynesian peoples, which isn’t that far off from the minimum date? So instead of 2% Andaman-like, they may be around 10% Polynesian by ancestry, with the East Eurasian portion of the Polynesian ancestry masked in the “Han-like” subsection. Of course, one would presume this would depress Ancient North Eurasian in South America, which I don’t think they have found. But neither paper has really looked into whether this Andaman-like ancestry could be explained by Polynesian admixture from what I can gather.

        In the post-Columbian world, there was apparently widespread outright depopulation in the Amazon. I’ve long held that Jared Diamond’s hypothesis of why the Amerinds died out in such huge numbers – a lack of domesticated animals to expose them to epidemics – doesn’t hold water upon closer examination. Witness, for example, that Papuan agriculturalists survived contact with Austronesians and later Westerners with minimal demographic effect. In contrast, despite having pigs and chickens, a lot of Polynesian groups had massive levels of death from disease upon contact with the West. I would guess that immunodiversity plays a big role in resiliency – and the Amerinds were basically the human version of the Irish Potato Famine. Any group which had some outside admixture would be expected to be slightly more robust. And indeed, that seems to be what we see. The Na-Dene Navajo stopped collapsing demographically in the early 1800s, and started expanding their population rapidly – while their Peublo neighbors languished. Demographically large groups today like the Maya and Quecha tend to invariably have minor (5%-15% IIRC) levels of Old World Admixture. Similarly, It might be that any level of foreign admixture in the Amazon – whether ancient or of recent Polynesian provenance – would be selected for so long as some immune system genes came along for the ride.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Nope. If the admixture were from Polynesians, Polynesians would be a better match than Andamanese islanders. But that is not the case.

        • gcochran9 says:

          “And finally, trade involving Euroamerican ships in the Pacific only began after 1760 AD. By 1760 AD, both Bot15 and Bot17 were already deceased with a probability of 0.92 and 0.81, respectively, making this scenario unlikely.”

          replace ‘unlikely’ with ‘certain’. Every event generates lots of not-too-likely bits of data. If you want, you can focus on those not-too-likely bits of data and try explain the event away. Even easier, considering that some of the data will actually be incorrect.

          Many people have made a good living at this.

          • dearieme says:

            “trade involving Euroamerican ships in the Pacific only began after 1760 AD”: can that be right? Francis Drake pillaged Spanish shipping on the South American coast in the 16th century. If it refers to trade across the Pacific, it must surely be wrong too. When did the Manila galleons sail?

            Answer WKPD: The term Manila Galleons is also used to refer to the trade route between Acapulco and Manila, which lasted from 1565 to 1815.

            • gcochran9 says:

              I knew that statement about trade was wrong, but what matters is contact with Polynesia, and that was fairly late. The Spanish mission to Tahiti happened in 1772 and 1774. But since the C-14 dates overlap with known voyages times, even if not by much, you don’t need any special explanation.

              In multiple places, I have heard that the Portuguese made voyages that were essentially secret: supposedly Magellan had foreknowledge about the Straits from voyages of that kind. I don’t if it is true.

      • engleberg says:

        ‘The thing to remember is there were no armies, no way to tap the strength of a whole population . . . Hadn’t been invented, couldn’t be done.’

        Even prairie rats get together in big conglomerations. Like lemmings. Caesar’s conquest of Gaul doesn’t prove there were no armies in Gaul, it just means Caesar was meaner and better organized. Lack of time-binding would mean the army skills were lost after a generation, but it strikes me as something that was invented, lost, reinvented, re-lost; like hominids and fire.

        • Jim says:

          The Gauls and the other Celts of Northern Europe are not at all comparable to primitive hunter-gatherers. I don’t think Caesar’s conquest of Gaul is relevant to Greg’s point.

          • As far as the Romans were concerned, the Celts and Gauls might as well been Hunter gatherers. They were not more advances as the Meso-Americans or the high civilations of South America. They were pretty much savage barbarians, and cannot compare to some Native Americans. Of course you are obviously biased for some reason.

            • gcochran9 says:

              Say something less stupid.

            • gcochran9 says:

              “In 390 BC, an army of Gauls led by Brennus attacked Rome, capturing all of the city except for the Capitoline Hill, which was successfully held against them. Brennus besieged the hill, and finally the Romans asked to ransom their city. Brennus demanded 1,000 pounds (327 kg) of gold and the Romans agreed to his terms.[1] Livy, in Ab Urbe Condita (Book 5 Sections 34–49),[2] recorded that the Gauls provided steelyard balances and weights which were used to measure the amount of gold. The Romans brought the gold, but claimed that the provided weights were rigged in the Gaul’s favor. The Romans complained to Brennus about the issue. Brennus took his sword, threw it onto the weights, and exclaimed, “Vae victis!” The Romans were forced to bring more gold to fulfill their obligation as they then had to counterbalance the sword as well.”

              They might as well have been hunter-gatherers.

    • ohwilleke says:

      This is also fairly plausible, particularly if the pseudo-Andamanese had some trait that made them selectively less fit than the main wave of Amerinds, causing a potentially higher level of initial introgression to decline over time.

      For example, suppose that the pseudo-Andamanese needed more salt and omega-3 in their diet to stay healthy than Amerinds as an adaptation to coastal fish eating living, and only a few people with pseudo-Andamanese descent were still living by the time that the selective fitness impairing genes had been purged from the gene pool. Add a Colombian disease purge of the rare people who still had pseudo-Andamanese genes in “contacted populations” and it isn’t so improbable that the only trace of these genes are found in an Amazonian population that is only a generation or two past first contact.

  15. Douglas Knight says:

    You seem to say that the Andamanese-ish only lived in South America. How much time before the Amerinds show up? 5ky? Why wouldn’t they populate everything? Is it plausible that they did populate everything, but were completely supplanted everywhere else, while managed to contribute a little to the gene pool in the places that they were best adapted?

    Why do you believe that the Andamanese-ish came by sea, rather than Beringia? Because you need to be a big game hunter to live in the Arctic? And then they would have wiped out the megafauna? Or because the final trace was in Brazil (leading back to the previous question)?

    • gcochran9 says:

      If you came much earlier than the Amerindians, you had to to come by sea, because there was no ice-free corridor yet. The first Amerinds may well have used boats.

      Megafauna with no evolutionary experience of humans were exterminated every time modern humans showed up. it is to be expected.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        But you are admitting the Andamanese-ish as an exception to that. You put them in South America before the Amerinds, not causing extinctions. So why not spreading to North America not causing extinctions?

        Anyhow, even if you do know that they didn’t spread that leaves the question of why they didn’t spread. 5ky is a long time.

        I suppose that it is possible that they only occupied a small territory that they were well-adapted to and caused local extinctions in that territory that aren’t so obvious in the fossil record. But if they started on the Pacific coast, they must have been adequately adapted to that.

        • benespen says:

          Or, perhaps the problem is that they weren’t adequately adapted, not really. They found an open niche, and did passably well, at least until a better competitor showed up. The real question is what was the problem or problems that prevented the Andamanese-ish from prospering like the Amerinds. Something fairly serious, if they didn’t finish off the megafauna or put up much of a fight when the new guys moved into town.

          • The strongest indication that there was something wrong with the Andamanese in the Americas is their population didn’t explode and go everywhere and leave at the very least man made stone tools. The place was a paradise for the first arrivers. Far more so than in Asia or Europe where life had evolved to avoid hominid hunters. Homo Erectus would have spread far and wide leaving behind evidence of stone tools. But it didn’t happen.

      • ohwilleke says:

        The only sea route that would be possible would be via the Beringian and Pacific Coast. No society on Earth had the maritime capacity necessary to cross the South Pacific until the Austronesians came along.

  16. Tommy says:

    Could the Andamanese-like component have come from an archaic proto-Andamanese or pre-Andamanese population living somewhere other than Australasia?

    Could the lack of ecological dominance simply reflect a lack of immunological dominance? The Amerindian population itself has a very small inventory of genes. Any oceanic group probably had a very small population size. Who knows what those initial settlers were up against in terms of pathogens in a whole new world?

    How long would it take to go from a beachcomber existence to driving megafaunal extinctions and was there really enough time to make the transition before the Amerinds arrived? If the expansion proceeded from the east coast rather than the west (as improbable as that might be), might the discovery of the Amazon River have slowed the transition? Even if the spread was from the west, over the Andes, is there any chance that a riverine lifestyle along the Amazon held a lot more appeal to these earliest arrivals than a life on the plains?

    • Frank says:

      The Andamanese-like component in question is highly diverged from the Andaman Island people. Probably by 20,000 years or more. The name only reflects the closest found relative, which is actually not close at all.

      It seems likely that the ancestors of all these groups developed some kind of coastal lifestyle with boats. Only a few times did they abandon those boats to become land dwellers. This complicates things, because they wouldn’t leave any artifacts on the land.

      • gcochran9 says:

        “Only a few times did they abandon those boats to become land dwellers.”

        This comes from nowhere. All of Southeast Asia used be occupied by Andaman-Like populations.

        • Frank says:


          Unless you consider “Andaman-like” to go back 50,000 years.

          The similarity is not recent by anyone’s standards.

          • gcochran9 says:

            All of Southeast Asia was occupied, relatively recently, (~6000 years ago) by populations that were genetically close to the Andamanese and to the funny admixture fraction in Brazilian Amerindians. Closerr than anyone else, anyhow.

            • Frank says:

              I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t yet read that ancient DNA paper on Southeast Asia.

              • gcochran9 says:

                remnant populations like the Semang, , skeletal evidence, admixture analysis of southeast Asian populations.

              • Frank says:

                That is so weak.

                How many (human) skeletally inferenced hypotheses have been confirmed by ancient DNA?

                A few involving Neanderthal admixture?

                I know that you can’t really get good statistics on this, but skeletal measurements are just not great at identification of specific ancestry in ancient individuals.

              • Pincher Martin says:

                That is so weak. How many (human) skeletally inferenced hypotheses have been confirmed by ancient DNA?

                Frank, you’re a bit of a dunderhead, aren’t you?

                Greg mentioned three lines of evidence which support his inference. 1) Remnant populations. 2) Skeletal evidence. 3) admixture analysis of southeast Asian populations.

                Yet in your reply to him, you focus on just one line of evidence. If you don’t have the ability to focus on more than one thing at a time, perhaps this is not the field for you.

              • Frank says:

                Thanks for the tip, Pincher.

                But Greg was saying that the area was occupied ‘recently’ by people closely related to Andaman Islanders.

                In fact, his own lines of evidence say that they are only the closest known relatives. But the relationship still dates back 30-50,000 years. The ‘close’ relationship is an artifact of not having any populations genetically closer to compare.

                Have you even read the papers we are discussing?

              • Pincher Martin says:


                But Greg was saying that the area was occupied ‘recently’ by people closely related to Andaman Islanders.

                Yes, and he gave three lines of evidence to support his inference. You chose to isolate the one line of evidence you believed to be the weakest and ignore the others.

                In fact, his own lines of evidence say that they are only the closest known relatives. But the relationship still dates back 30-50,000 years. The ‘close’ relationship is an artifact of not having any populations genetically closer to compare.

                Yes, so what? A sketchy line is still better than no line at all. I don’t see Greg claiming to tell us anything definitive about these proto-Andaman Islanders other than that the evidence strongly suggests 1) they weren’t Amerinds, 2) they preceded the Amerinds into South America, and 3) they probably came by boat.

                That’s it. In fact, Greg often carefully qualified his statements about this group: “the Andamanese-like admixure”; “vaguely Andamanese-like population”; “Why didn’t these Andamanese-like guys…”; “pseudo-Andamanese…”, etc. So Greg has been careful about how he describes these people.

                If your point is that these proto-Andaman Islanders were not likely to have been anything like the Andaman Islanders we know today – or even like the Andaman Islanders we hypothesize about who lived seven thousand years ago – who cares? It’s a tedious point that doesn’t address Greg’s concerns here.

                Have you even read the papers we are discussing?

                Not all of them. But you highlight how a comprehensive reading of the source material doesn’t help a person when he has a gift for making the wrong inferences.

              • Matt says:

                Apparently Pincher Martin does not only not read the papers, neither has he read the comments that actually elicited this tangent on which he has felt obliged to comment (which yes, is specifically about Greg’s definitive claim that mainland Southeast Asia was until recently populated by people genetically similar to the Onge).

                Anyway, there are relict populations who share with Onge via admixture analysis (e.g. http://gbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/7/5/1206.full). Since they’re insular, they’re not very useful if you’re interested in establishing that people like them were until recently the predominant population in mainland South East Asia.

                Although populations on the mainland being “Onge like” is probably a given, for a certain threshold of “Onge like”, since even Han Chinese are “Onge like” in a world context. So it’s frankly a low bar if that’s all you’re looking for. If we’re talking about more “Onge like” than the Han, then possibly yes they would be, if it’s correct that the Han have ANE admixture which would disrupt their similarity to the Onge.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Since the Negritos of Malaysia like the Semang are not insular (do not live on islands) you are mistaken.

              • Pincher Martin says:


                Apparently Pincher Martin does not only not read the papers, neither has he read the comments that actually elicited this tangent on which he has felt obliged to comment (which yes, is specifically about Greg’s definitive claim that mainland Southeast Asia was until recently populated by people genetically similar to the Onge).

                Greg made no such claim. His only point was that the sliver of DNA found in the area east of the Andes was more closely related to the Andaman Islanders than it is to any other group we see today.

                Here, let me help you by putting the important part of Greg’s post in bold:

                All of Southeast Asia was occupied, relatively recently, (~6000 years ago) by populations that were genetically close to the Andamanese and to the funny admixture fraction in Brazilian Amerindians. Closerr than anyone else, anyhow.

                “Closer than anyone else.”

                Greg’s qualification is important, and you and Frank have had to work very hard not to see it.

                Now you can dispute his point if you want, but that’s the only point I see him trying to make here. So stop nattering on in a blinkered way about trivialities when he is trying to make a broader point.

              • Frank says:

                You all are hilarious.

                I was just pointing out that the “close relation” is extremely distant in this case. And that we have zero clue where the full blooded ancestors of these Andaman-like people were ever living.

                Greg’s comment on the Negritos of Malaysia is a good example. They are probably 50,000 years distant from the South American group.

                The Negritos have Denisovan admixture, while the Andaman Island people and the South Americans do not. This was not a recent split.

              • gcochran9 says:

                In general mainlanders in Southeast and East Asia do indeed have some Denisovan ancestry, but less than Aboriginal Australians, Near Oceanians, Polynesians, Fijians, east Indonesians, and Mamanwa. On the order of a half a percent.

                The mainland Negritos of Malaysia do not have high levels of Denisovan ancestry.

                I doubt if we’re talking as long ago as 50,000 years: more like 20,000. Has to be long enough after after the splits of various groups in Eurasia to be able share unique drift history with the Onge.

              • RK says:

                “They are probably 50,000 years distant from the South American group.”

                This is absolutely laughable. I guess you didn’t read that ancient DNA paper on Ust-Ishim, or know how formals work. The clade has to split much later than 50KYA, even later than the split of Han from Onge. You don’t have the facts here.

                Matt, in Zack’s analysis which included Malaysian Orang Asli and Onge–the only ADMIXTURE analysis with both groups in a dataset–the Onge and Orang Asli form a component. More robustly, Temuan, Kensiu etc. are also an element in Rasmussen’s ADMIXTUREGRAPH analysis of Denisova ancestry in SE Asia, and are admixtures of Onge and mainland East Asian populations, which makes sense as they speak austroasiatic languages.

      • tommy says:

        Speakers of the Tupi languages apparently have the highest fraction of this Andamanese-like component and the Tupi urheimat is postulated to be in southwestern Brazil. That might seem to provide support for a western route, but Tupi is very probably related to the Macro-Ge and Carib families as well and the urheimat for that combined family isn’t clear. I’m not sure if we’re dealing with Amerinds picking up more Andamanese mixture around a Tupi motherland or if we’re simply dealing with random genetic fluctuation among a combined Ge-Tupi-Carib ancestral population that eventually split. Greg might know.

        In any event, here’s a map of the Madeira River basin where the Tupi languages are thought to have originated.

        I don’t know a lot about the layout of the Andes, but is it implausible to think that these Andamanese-like people came via the Peurvian coast, up central or southern Peru’s small rivers, into those large Andean lakes pictured in the map and, not too far off, coming down the mountains, lay the gateway into the Amazon system? The whole altitude thing is the catch: could an Andamanese-like population have crossed? Are there enough valleys? Could merely making it across these mountains have been one of the factors that would have retarded population growth and inhibited megafaunal extinction? Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense for a population of beachcombers to simply expand up and down the Pacific coastline? What did this part of the world look like when the Andamanese came?

        • I like the information you provide, but you go too far with your inferences. Just keep in perspective just how little we know, it seems to me that everybody looking at tiny tiny glimpses of our past jump to way too many conclusions. The Andamanese-like people were pushed aside very easily by the population that originated from Beringia. We know that much and not much more. There is a lot of lost history between today and 13,000 years ago. That the highest fraction of Andamanese-like component existing in today’s population lies in the least desirable location is what we should expect. That is where the last pygmies and the last hunter gatherer groups hang on in Africa.

          I would guess that the Andamanese had some beneficial genes for coping in the tropics that the Amerinds benefitted from. This may or may not be proven but Amerinds came from one of the coldest places on earth humans have ever successfully lived, Beringia during the last ice age.

          • tommy says:

            Yes, it’s pure speculation. It’s one unproven assumption heaped upon another, but it’s probably the best we’ll do until we get more data. It’s still fun to speculate in the mean time.

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          If it happened then Lake Titicaca looks like a possible crossover point.

          • Tommy says:

            I am curious as to how these large Andean lakes fared during the last Ice Age. I would have assumed the whole region was high, dry and cold but apparently evidence suggests otherwise:

            “After analyzing all three core samples, the scientists concluded that the lake ­ and therefore the entire Altiplano — has undergone a series of dramatic changes since the Ice Age was at its peak between 26,000 and 15,000 years ago.

            “Lake Titicaca was a deep, fresh and continuously overflowing lake during the last glacial stage,” according to the Science study, “signifying that the Altiplano of Bolivia and Peru and much of the Amazon basin were wetter than today.”

            Then, about 15,000 years ago, the Altiplano underwent a significant change. A dry era was launched, which continued for the next 2,000 years, causing Lake Titicaca to drop significantly.”

            Source: http://web.stanford.edu/dept/news/pr/01/titicaca124.html

  17. Matt says:

    The latest paper by the Lazaridis-Patterson-Reich group on ancient European DNA models East Asians from the Han group as “no less than ~5-10% ANE in diverse East Asian groups including Han Chinese (Extended Data Fig. 4; Extended Data Fig. 6f)”, with the other 95-90% being basically Onge. Estimate for the Han 7.9% ANE, 92.1% Onge.

    Due to statistically significant asymmetry between relatedness of EHG (Eastern European Hunter Gatherers) to Han-Onge, even though this was not found in the earlier MA1 sample used for Ancient North Eurasian (ANE, or Sibermen if you prefer), and particular when using one of the paleolithic European samples they now have in their modeling (though there is a fuller set of paleolithic Europeans that this could be cross tested with in Fu et al 2016). Probably the earlier MA1 sample was divergent somehow in the ancestral tree from the ANE later in history that tended to leave descendants.

    So with that in mind, you wonder what exactly it means for the Native Americans with the strongest ANE affinity, Karitiana Indians, to also have an extra Onge like affinity.

    A stronger affinity to both parts of the rough cline on which Han are on, then less affinity to the Han themselves.

    There’s a later sample in the paper Fu et al 2016, AfontovaGora3, which looks like a pure ANE sample that is a much better reference for ANE than MA1 (much more shared drift with Eastern European Hunter Gatherers and Native Americans). So, that will be important in the next stage of refining their modeling of Native Americans and East Asians, and how exactly ANE and Onge-like South East Asian populations have differentially contributed to them.

    • Grels says:

      The ancient “Siberman” MA1 is more related to Onge than EHG and WHG are (Extended Data figure 7).

      Click to access 059311.full.pdf

      • Matt says:

        And than AG2. (Testing AG3 would be a priority.) Well spotted. And EHG more related to Han than WHG…. Perhaps extra Onge affinity in the Amerind population most related to MA-1 will be more related to population structure in Siberia than has been appreciated.

  18. ohwilleke says:

    I think it is more likely that one or two Andamanese type individuals showed up by boat in Berginia shortly before everyone moved out to the Americas and joined up with a tribe that happened to be at the vanguard ahead of everyone else in the migration and hence denied a chance to admix with them until they finally hit the end of the road and stopped. This pretty simple fluke scenario seems more plausible than inventing an entire mass migration and culture for which we have no other evidence. And, the individuals who have Andamanese type DNA don’t have weird phenotypes, whereas a number of weird phenotype skeletons have been tested for DNA and turned out very typical Amerindian.

    • Frank says:


    • Karl Zimmerman says:

      To be fair, 2% anything probably wouldn’t influence phenotype in any detectable fashion, unless some of the traits were being actively selected for.

      • ohwilleke says:

        Presumably, one would assume that if were phenotype skeletons did have Andamanese ancient DNA that they would have a much higher fraction than any modern population – and phenotype would be discernible somewhere in the vicinity of 8%-16%.

    • gcochran9 says:

      You don’t need a mass migration to establish a population in an empty continent. Anyhow, it should fairly easy to check your silly scenario: one can do some some detailed analysis of the anomalous fraction of Amazonian DNA and eventually get better estimates of when and how many inviduals.

      If you read this blog, which you do, you might also remember what Doug Jones mentioned about linguist Joanna Nichols finding linguistic strata linking Australo-Melanesia and southern South America.

      Is one guy going to have that effect?

      • ohwilleke says:

        That’s a pretty speculative linguistic proposition, particularly given that there is really no meaningful linguistic evidence that Australian Aboriginal languages and Papuan languages even have any discernible commonality.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          I suppose that a lot depends on what you consider “meaningful”.

          • Frank says:

            In this case it does not. That linguistic ‘data’ is not meaningful.

              • Frank says:

                Because her own speculation is that the head-marked possessive noun phrases in some populations around the Pacific coast are because of a related linguistic history over 35,000 years old.

                By this standard, all languages in Eurasia could be grouped into obvious clusters. But it doesn’t work even for better suspected super families of languages.

                It is not convincing data. It is a correlation with a very small number of subjective data points.

                I doubt that any other serious linguist alive would give it any weight. In fact, in the last 15 years, none have.

              • Toddy Cat says:

                “I doubt that any other serious linguist alive would give it any weight. In fact, in the last 15 years, none have.”

                With all due respect, linguists have not exactly covered themselves with glory over the last 15 years.

              • Frank says:

                And before the last 15 years. Which is also why I think that ‘data’ is worthless.

                It is a random hypothesis. That is all.

      • Karl Zimmerman says:

        We’ve found the paleolithic Genghis Khan!

  19. Philip Neal says:

    If the Na-Dene arrived a mere 4000 or 5000 years ago, is it possible that they had hearsay knowledge of Chinese ideas such as the cyclical calendar, ideographic writing etc and reinvented them as they imagined them to be?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Since none of the Na-Dene peoples have any form of writing…

    • dux.ie says:

      The ancient NE Chinese “Di’ and “Rong” people were high in yHg Q


      “””the haplogroup Q high frequency existence of Shanxi was the ancient nomads
      “Di” active area;”””


      “””Q-M242 is found in Na-Dené speakers at an average rate of 68%.
      The highest frequency is 92.3% in Navajo, followed by 78.1% in
      Apache,[2] 87%[2] in SC Apache,[11] and about 80% in North American
      Eskimo (Inuit)–Aleut populations.”””

      “””most of Q-M242 people in East Asia belong to subclade Q-M120,
      which distributes most intensively across northern China (the
      provinces of which the capitals locate northern to Huai River-Qin
      Mountains line). Q-M242 ranged from 4~8% in northwest China
      (Xinjiang, Gansu, Shaanxi), north China (Shanxi, Hebei),
      central China (Henan), and upper east China (Shandong) to
      3~4% in northeast China (Manchuria).”””


      “””They were often enemies and sometimes allies of the various Chinese states.
      We hear of trade, treaties, marriage alliances and Chinese politicians fleeing
      to exile among the Di.”””

      That went back to pre-history and mythology.

      The Chinese version of the winged totem pole (now build with stone)
      is still very prominent, probably from the pre-historic proto populations,



      The fondness for jade,


      The native indian’s serpent mound of large serpent chasing an egg


      and the Chinese dragon chasing a large pearl,


      • Karl Zimmerman says:

        I think this is mostly crap, but it does remind me of the “Dené-Caucausian” hypothesis which linked together (among other groups) Sino-Tibetan and Na-Dené speakers.

        The macrofamily is almost certainly a load of crap at the broadest level, although Dené–Yeniseian has been proven. It may be that the origin of the Sino Tibetan languages, going back past even the North Chinese Neolithic, was a Siberian group with links to Dené–Yeniseian peoples.

        I expect in the next 5-10 years we’ll untangle the origins of the East Asian mesolithic and neolithic at least as well as we have for Europe, South Asia, and the Near East now, and it will answer many of these questions.

        • dux.ie says:

          You mean as in the Reich’s paper figure 1, “””Eurasian source populations of the
          earliest Native Americans. … people related to present-day East Asians such as Han Chinese (pink)””” is mostly crap ??

          • Karl Zimmerman says:

            I mean the “evidence” you give could be argued to be mostly happenstance. It isn’t strong at all. We simply wouldn’t expect cultural continuity to last over such a long period of time – particularly with pre-literate peoples.

            That said, I have no problem considering the scenario that there was an ANE-admixed group living somewhere in the range of modern Manchuria in the Mesolithic. One branch could migrate northward and become the proto-Dené–Yeniseians. The other branch migrates southward and intermixes with indigenous groups, forming the nexus of Proto-Sino-Tibetan.

            • dux.ie says:

              Comparative mythology seems to be an active field, especially wrt dragon. Currently there are hot debates about this paper,


              “””Asymmetries of transmission are widespread whenever we contrast population genetic and cultural data (consider the language spoken by Hungarians), but why should the Australian or Melanesian-like folklore forms have won out so disproportionately in South American? While evidence for low levels of “Population Y” ancestry is widespread across South America, Andeans and many Mesoamericans don’t seem to have significantly more of it than North Americans. Is that reflected in the folklore?”””

              This guy from Harvard seems to be attacking the dragon myth paper on genetic ground rather than cultural ground.

  20. “They don’t mention it, but the uniparental lineages suggest that ANE guys ran off with some sobbin’ proto-Han women, much like the formation story for the Indo-Europeans.”

    I’m tired of the ANE=macho man who kid naps women. It’s a fantasy. Don’t put pre-historic people you never meet into categories of behavior based on distantly shared ancestry.

    It’s differnt for Indo Europeans and Amerindians. People with some ANE ancestry helped form Indo Europeans, there were no pure ANE people who helped form the Indo Europeans. Upper Paleolithic Siberians have nothing to do with Indo Europeans 10,000-20,000 years later, besides distantly shared ancestry. To treat dominance of ANE Y DNA in Amerindians and Indo Europeans as the same ANE macho man phenomenon happening twice makes no sense.

    Also there’s a misconception about dominance of ANE Y DNA in early Indo Europeans. The Yamnaya were not the result of a 50/50 mixture between EHG(only about half ANE) men and CHG/Northern West Asian women. A large percentage, at least 25%, of Yamnaya’s mtDNA was EHG. This means admixture between EHG and CHG was not always EHG male and CHG female, a large percentage of the time it was CHG male and EHG female.

    Yamnaya’s Y DNA was entirely EHG because of a founder effect. The same is true for Corded Ware. Both Corded Ware and Yamnaya’s Y DNA traced back to one guy who lived less than 8,000 years ago. 99% of EHG male lines went extinct just as 99% of CHG male lines went extinct.

    • Frank says:

      “A large percentage, at least 25%, of Yamnaya’s mtDNA was EHG. This means admixture between EHG and CHG was not always EHG male and CHG female, a large percentage of the time it was CHG male and EHG female.”

      I don’t understand how you can conclude that CHG males had anything to do with this. Why couldn’t that EHG mtDNA have come from EHG males with EHG females?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Latest estimate is that the EHG were 75% ANE.

      Obviously Yamnaya mtDNA being 25% EHG does not necessarily mean that there was admixture between CHG males and EHG female. You’re confused.

      In both cases, Amerindians and Indo-Europeans, the ANE contribution absolutely dominates the Y chromosomes. That’s a fact. You can’t make it go away. I don’t know how it happened – although if we believe Dumezil, we may have a vague idea in the case of the Indo-Europeans.

      You see over-representation of Indo-European Y-chromosomes (compared to their autosomal contribution) in both southern Europe and India. The EEF accounts for the majority of autosomal ancestry in southern Europe, but the characteristic EEF y-chromosome haplotypes are almost gone.

    • Matt says:

      IRC Y haplogroup J found among CHG has been found among Yamnaya, and also among the Epipaleolithic Steppe culture that preceeded them, and also found in the Caucasus Hunter Gatherers, so probably not always yes.

      But certainly by the Yamnaya the pool was vastly ANE, if it wasn’t originally.

      For y-dna, there’s not such a strong pattern of y-dna greater than autosomal on a North vs South basis. Englands’s about 50% Yamnaya, 50% Chalcolithic European – 80% R1b. Italy’s modelled as around 20% Yamnaya and is usually reported as around 30% R1b.

      Conversely Scandinavia with high Yamnaya seems mostly dominated by haplogroup I which is of ambiguous origins. True of Balkan regions too. The really dramatic outstripping of autosomal by y seems more Western generally, as a regional thing, than Southern generally.

      • Matt says:

        By the way, to offer some actual evidence for my assertion:

        The most dramatic imbalances between y-dna R and Yamnaya component are in Spain. But in general it looks more like a Western European phenomenon than a Southern one, as you don’t see this strongly in the Eastern or Central Europeans, North or South, while Scotland and England have quite as much more y-dna compared to their autosome as does Italy.

  21. TWS says:

    Could they have been fishers that followed the coast south? During the ice age the coast was a hundred miles underwater where I live. They are dredging up stuff like campsites now. If they were fishers there’s no reason to fight the mega fauna or move inland. The local Indians could support good sized towns just on the salmon, seals, whales etc.

    Couldn’t the Adamaees? do that as well?

    • engleberg says:

      Maybe they were funny-looking because they’d adapted to living in canoes and could paddle a lot better than they could walk. Some southeast asian fishers are still like that.

  22. Greying Wanderer says:


    If OoA went counter clockwise round the Himalayas, picked up some useful brain genes from Yetis in the far north which then flowed back the way they came all the way back to Africa then there would likely be some relics of the first population tide tucked away in various remote spots.

    Going by tommy’s map linked above Lake Titicaca looks like a possible crossover spot for fish eaters from the coast to get to the Madeira river.

    Did the Incas have any legends about short forest goblins?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      If an Andamanese-like population with DOS 1.0 operating system did decide to try and cross the Pacific you’d think they’d want a pretty big incentive.

      If there was a back migration of people with DOS 2.0 yeti brain genes from somewhere near NE China wiping out the previous DOS 1.0 people that would be a pretty big incentive.

      (if the timing fits – which it may not)

  23. biz says:

    Fascinating! But how did the Andaman-like group get to Brazil? Across the tropical Pacific and over the Andes? Or north around the kelp forest and back down? Or from Africa and across the Atlantic? All seem really implausible, both in the achievement of getting there and the lack of traces left in all of the regions between where they must have crossed.

  24. Frank says:

    “This is absolutely laughable. I guess you didn’t read that ancient DNA paper on Ust-Ishim, or know how formals work.”

    In all due respect (these are excellent analyses and all), I think you are missing the main point. This is a side track of a side track.

    Sure. The Malaysian mainland Negritos are not ‘pure’ Negrito. They are admixed with a Onge-like/Andaman-like population that split off from the South American group more recently. I was exaggerating the distance toward the Negrito side of the admixture, which carried the Denisovan admixture. Thanks for calling me out, but the other side is indeed that far distant.

    Anyway, this has no bearing on the point of the original post, which suggests that an Andaman-like population was once an unadmixed population within Brazil.

    No admixture or formal stats have verify this. No archaeological data has confirms this. No ancient DNA has confirmed this. The only link is a bit of admixture in a few populations.

    That admixture could have been picked up by a sub-population within Beringia before those people moved south. In fact, it might have even spurred the first movements south, by introducing a new lifestyle to a Beringian coastal population.

    Without more data, it is impossible to say what happened, but to suggest that the most likely scenario is that a pure Andaman-like people set up camp just east of the Andes, immediately before the Amerindians moved in, without any other trace, is very far from reasonable.

    • You are consistently jumping to bad assumption after bad assumption starting with that you can debate with Greg Cochran on this subject matter. I am not going to list the bad assumptions you are repeatedly making because you won’t learn from your mistakes.

      You don’t have to be knowledgable in the subject matter, and you don’t have to be highly intelligent to say your piece here at West Hunter but you have to remain open minded and humble. Those approaches are what separate a scientific way of thinking from a bar room bullshitter. When you read Cochran’s statements you can see he carefully avoids declarations based on belief. When you read Frank’s statements you read a man with a stubborn and sometimes ignorant agenda.

      Ten or so years ago I didn’t know the difference either. I am not a formally trained scientist, So when I started leaving comments over at Razib’s blog I unintentionally left comments that were very poorly phrased. Compare and contrast comments left on political bogs and serious scientific blogs. There is a night and day difference.

      Frank you are not a dumb guy, you can learn just like I did, not to come off like a stubborn man with ego problems if you so desire to. There a are a lot of bright people who read West Hunter with no scientific training who error like I did, and sometimes still do, with not knowing how to dissect the real world with a scientific approach rather than the mainstream bullshit like you will read in 99% of the comments in the political blogs.

      A scientific approach isn’t just for becoming a real contributor to science blogs, it is a means to literally gain more control over your life. Average IQ folks may not be able to contribute to this blog but they will limit self deception if they learn the basic differences between closed and open mindedness.

      Sometimes I skim read the political blogs over at Unz review. It’s verbal wasteland of morons with angry agendas. If someone comes over here with that approach and leaves comment after comment at West Hunter he is going to get smacked down. Your turn Frank.

      • Frank says:

        I appreciate that dave.

        I disagree with much of what you say, though. This is mostly because I have no other agenda than to get Greg to admit that he has only given weight to the hypothesis that a pure Andaman- like population lived within South America, and not the other alternative (which many people view as more reasonable, but somehow less exciting).

        I have no idea which is correct, and would never say that I do. But, I am not the one who has dismissed either option without enough data. I am very open minded, others sometime lead people into believing that they have some superior insight.

        I don’t know what the unz review is, but I will google it and probably steer clear upon reading your comments.

        • Sandgroper says:

          If you steer clear of the Unz Review, you will miss Razib Khan’s GNXP Blog, which would be a big mistake. And he deliberately keeps it non-political. Feel free to ignore the rest as you wish, but I have been reading Razib on genetics for as long as he has been blogging on the subject (I think now 13 or 14 years), and I don’t regard a single minute of that time wasted.

        • Sandgroper says:

          (Sorry – serial commenting) – another one you should access, if you are not already, is David’s Blog called Eurogenes (not at the Unz site, so you need to Google it). The quality of the comments there is pretty high, with a lot of the commenters being well informed on genomics.

  25. TWS says:

    If they were coastal dwellers, tidal gleaners with mostly wooden tools we’d find nothing. The coast has moved since the last ice age. Living on the coast is easy especially near a river. You have to work at it or live on an island to starve. They’d leave no footprint but genes and if the later waves were not in the mood for keeping them around….

    • Frank says:

      Well, as Greg pointed out earlier, the Andaman-like people seemed to also leave behind start-up land-based communities. It was pointed out to me earlier that they did this in the Andaman islands and nearly all of Southeast Asia.

      Also, you don’t leave a genetic legacy in the most difficult place to get to in the heart of the Amazon by being solely coastal dwelling tide-gleaners, that somehow actually ever lived in that inland location.

      Of course they had a ‘pure’ population at some point, but those people could have admixed with Amerindians anywhere from Beringia to Tierra del Fuego.

      If the Andaman-like people were coastal, then it seems more reasonable that the admixture occurred before they moved south.

  26. atlatl hobbyist says:

    “….even the Australian aborigines seemed to have wiped out the Australian megafauna pretty rapidly… In our scenario, why didn’t the pseudo-Andamanese? Something limited their ecological dominance…..”

    Maybe they didn’t have atlatls. This would limit both their hunting capabilities, and their predator defense. Hence, the megafauna wouldn’t be exterminated, and perhaps whole habitats would be off limits due to the extreme predator threat (what Valerius Geist called the “Rancho La Brean predator hell”)

    By contrast, we know that Paleo-Amerinds definitely DID have atlatl technology, brought over the land bridge as an inheritance from their Ancient North Eurasian progenitors. And there’s archaeological evidence of megafaunal kills.

    • gcochran9 says:

      The Australians don’t seem to have had atlatls (woomeras) until about 5000 years ago: but then, marsupials are probably less formidable than sabertooths and dire wolves and short-faced bears and mammoths.

  27. Anon says:

    Is Andaman/Onge like admixture very different from Melanesian admixture?

    If not, there’s another, very clear explanation. It’s now known that Polynesians reached as far as the east coast of Brazil(and yes, Peruvian slavery, which really started in the 1800s, and Madagascar Portuguese slaves are ruled out). I mean, that’s undisputable at this point. There’s two fully Polynesian samples found of the Botocudo culture from around the 1600s AD, the autosomal DNA, y-dna/mtDNA are all correct for being Polynesians. Polynesians themselves had Melanesian admixture at around 23%, the rest being southern Mongoloid typical of Indochinese/southern Chinese/Indonesians.

    That would explain groups east of the Andes having this sort of admixture, assuming Melanesian and Andaman admixture are similar. As far as I know, Melanesians are just Andamanese with extra Denisovan and Neanderthal, but that’s an assumption. I’d still say the Luzia skull is the best evidence of pre-Amerindian populations in the Americas, although that’s still dubious at best(look what happened with Kennewick man).

    If Andaman and Melanesian admixture is found to be vastly different(just like SSA and Andaman is, despite the similarity in looks), this’d be a huge find.

  28. Ilya says:

    To make sure I understand the timeline correctly: Basal Eurasians branched out around 60KYA and then diversified, circa 20KYA, into 3 branches: Anatolian, Natufian, and Iranian?

  29. Urisahatu says:

    In my opinion; the Andamanese-like Negrito people migrated from at least Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) towards Mainland Asia where some mixed with Denisovans giving birth to the mixed Negrito aka Australo-Melanesians, Papuans.
    The mixed Negrito migrated back to ISEA populating Australia and Near Oceania.
    The pure Negrito were pushed out of Mainland Asia; some seemingly taking the northern coastal route into the Americas; some migrated to the south through present day Malaysia to present day Andaman Islands (if they weren’t already there).

    In last years article “First Peoples” I already talked about the similar names for little people used by Pacific Islanders and Native Americans. https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/first-peoples/

    Little people – English

    Mannegishi – Cree (North America)
    Memegwesi – Anishinaabe ( ,, )
    Pa’iins – ,,

    Menehune – Hawai’i
    Manahune – Tahiti
    Ta’ai – Taiwan (Saisiyat / Saisiat tribe)

  30. Normandie Kent says:

    Dr. Eske Willerslev said it came thru Beringia after the First American migrations, because it is only found in a couple Amazon tribes, but most importantly, it was also found in the Aleutian Islanders who are not part of the first American migration, but came way after. The scientist do not think that they came directly from the South Pacific. If they were in America from the start, we would of found remains with full on Adamanese islander DNA motif, and even though they have found countless skulls with the same morphology as The AIs, the genetic profiles tie them directly to their decendant, the Amerindians. They were not in America before the Amerindians, because if they were, all natives would have a portion of DNA in their genomes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s