April 03, 2013

Polynesian mtDNA in extinct Amerindians from Brazil

From the paper:
In 1808 the Portuguese Crown declared “Just War” (Bellumiustum) against all Indian tribes that did not accept European laws (23). The fierce Botocudo were targeted in such wars and, in consequence, became virtually extinct by the end of the 19th century (24). Their importance for the history of the peopling of the Americas was revealed by studies reporting that the Botocudo had cranial features that consistently were described as intermediate between the polar Paleoamerican and Mongoloid morphologies (25, 26). Multivariate analyses of the cranial measures of different Amerindian and Paleoamerican groups from Brazil indeed concluded that the Botocudo Indians presented sufficient similarities with the Lagoa Santa Paleoamericans to be considered candidates to be their possible descendants (27).
Possible explanations:

The first scenario, prehistoric, is related to the possibility of genetic continuity between the Paleoamericans from Lagoa Santa and Botocudo Indians (26, 27, 37), which indeed originally had motivated this study. 
... 
Another imaginable pre-Columbian scenario involves opportunities for more recent direct contact between Polynesia and South America before the European arrival. Such possibility of a direct movement from Oceania across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas was raised by Cann (43) on a discussion of the origin of the Amerindian B haplogroup. This finding prompted Bonatto et al. (44) to evaluate the likelihood of a Polynesian-Amerindian contact having occurred and conclude against it, although they could rule out neither minor contact events nor nonmaternal genetic exchange. New evidence from human and nonhuman material has become available since then. For example, there were archeological findings of Polynesian chicken bones in the Arauco Peninsula, in Chile (45) and evidence has been found in Easter Island of pre-Columbian presence of sweet potato and bottle gourd, both typical of South America (46, 47). Independent of the plausibility or implausibility of the pre-Columbian arrival of Polynesians to the South American Pacific coast, there still would remain the need to explain how these migrants crossed the Andes and ended up in Minas Gerais, Brazil. We feel that such a scenario is too unlikely to be seriously entertained. 
... 
The last scenario that we wish to assess is the possible arrival of Polynesian haplogroups to Brazil in modern times through the African slave trade from Madagascar, where 20% of the mtDNA lineages belong to the B4a1a1a haplogroup (29).

It may be of relevance that both Tianyuan (~40ka) and Boshan (~8ka) from China belong to mtDNA haplogroup B and that B belongs to the R (and N) clade of the mtDNA phylogeny, i.e., a different branch of Out-of-Africa than C (which belongs to M). I wager that interesting things were taking place in East Eurasia and the New World until fairly recent times, and hopefully ancient DNA will help us complete the picture.

PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1217905110

Identification of Polynesian mtDNA haplogroups in remains of Botocudo Amerindians from Brazil

Vanessa Faria Gonçalves et al.

There is a consensus that modern humans arrived in the Americas 15,000–20,000 y ago during the Late Pleistocene, most probably from northeast Asia through Beringia. However, there is still debate about the time of entry and number of migratory waves, including apparent inconsistencies between genetic and morphological data on Paleoamericans. Here we report the identification of mitochondrial sequences belonging to haplogroups characteristic of Polynesians in DNA extracted from ancient skulls of the now extinct Botocudo Indians from Brazil. The identification of these two Polynesian haplogroups was confirmed in independent replications in Brazil and Denmark, ensuring reliability of the data. Parallel analysis of 12 other Botocudo individuals yielded only the well-known Amerindian mtDNA haplogroup C1. Potential scenarios to try to help understand these results are presented and discussed. The findings of this study may be relevant for the understanding of the pre-Columbian and/or post-Columbian peopling of the Americas.

Link

34 comments:

Mike Keesey said...

So, reverse-Heyerdahl?

terryt said...

"Here we report the identification of mitochondrial sequences belonging to haplogroups characteristic of Polynesians in DNA extracted from ancient skulls of the now extinct Botocudo Indians from Brazil".

While I have no doubt that Ploynesians reached America I think in the authors have nailed the answer:

"the possible arrival of Polynesian haplogroups to Brazil in modern times through the African slave trade from Madagascar"

That makes more sense than:

"there still would remain the need to explain how these migrants crossed the Andes and ended up in Minas Gerais, Brazil. We feel that such a scenario is too unlikely to be seriously entertained".

"Such possibility of a direct movement from Oceania across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas was raised by Cann (43) on a discussion of the origin of the Amerindian B haplogroup".

But Polynesian B and American B are very different lineages within B4.

"I wager that interesting things were taking place in East Eurasia and the New World until fairly recent times, and hopefully ancient DNA will help us complete the picture".

I wager you are completely correct.

eurologist said...

Yeah, I immediately thought of the chicken and tuber ancestry analysis.

Of course, B4a1a1a is highly derived and fairly recent, excluding arrival via Beringia and pretty much even the historic Pacific NW.

A faint possibility is a newly-acquired wife of a sailor with Pacific duties who went AWOL or retired in "paradise."

Ezr said...

"Polynesian" is actually a misnomer, right? After all, it is present in Madagascar and presumably Indonesia as well. It could be related to the very earliest (pre-?)Austronesian/Austric sea expansion, provided they had the technology at the time - maybe even by skirting the coast from Japan to Alaska to the Pacific coast of the Americas. Or, conversely, it could be the result of a Kon-Tiki-like back-migration (unlikely). Or it could turn out to be nothing of the sort - after all, this haplogroup had not turned up in any other ancient or modern AM group before. Really intriguing. Let's wait and see.

Ricardo Costa de Oliveira said...

Very interesting article. Only the complete mtDNA sequece of the MN00015 and MN00017 skulls classified as B4a1a1a and B4a1a1 could solve the problem. The Botocudos or Aimorés could had admixed long before with an ancient relict population because they themselves were a remnant group that fought hard to survive in a pocket against the Tupi-Guarani invasion of the Brazilian Littoral centuries before. The Botocudos or Aimorés fought hard to preserve their space from the Tupis and from the Portuguese, the natives killed Fernão de Sá in a battle in 1558, son of Mem de Sá, the Governor-General of Brazil. They fought hard for more than 350 years until the Brazilian Portuguese could almost exterminate them from the face of the Planet but I presume some of their DNA remained in the modern Admixed Brazilian population from that area and I hope the same mtDNA motif can be found in a living Brazilian in order to answer the questions.

Ezr said...

"there still would remain the need to explain how these migrants crossed the Andes and ended up in Minas Gerais, Brazil. We feel that such a scenario is too unlikely to be seriously entertained"


Well, not really, geography itself is not really a problem. Most of the languages of the region, for example, are thought to derive from proto-languages from the far west of Brazil, very close to the Pacific coast.

And, besides, in the last millennium, the Tupi-Guaranis are one group known to have expanded all the the way from the foothills of the Andes to the whole extension of the eastern coast of Brazil.

So movements along river courses and ancient trade routes from the Pacific to the Atlantic are not unexpected at all (and from the Pacific to a more central location like Minas Gerais, even less unexpected).

Of course, we need evidence along the way (Apparently, there were suggestions of the so-called "Polynesian motif" in Peru, though not confirmed).

Anyway, I think people tend to severely underestimate the mobility of ancient peoples, and of pre-Columbians Amerindians in particular, when in fact we do have direct evidence of some large-scale migrations across the continent in a very short time.

Raimo Kangasniemi said...

The Botocudo are not extinct; perhaps up to 1000 live in scattered communities.

Raimo Kangasniemi said...

Although the Madagascar explanation is far the likeliest, cross-Andes links certainly existed before the European colonization. There were trade links already in 3000 years ago based on goods recovered in archaeological excavations, during it's last decays Inca Empire was trying to expand to the Atlantic side of the Andes as archaeological evidence in Bolivia shows and lastly, the European colonization resulted in population movements from western South America to Eastern, from native refugees to servants and native wifes&concubines of European colonizers. Frankly, if the Polynesians did reach current Peru or Chile and left a genetic legacy, it should have spread in South America beyond the area of immediate contact. Andes were a hindrance, but not a barrier that could not have been crossed.

shenandoah said...

@Ezr, I agree; calling particular DNA haplogroups "Polynesian" is like calling certain other ones "European", "Asian", or "African". A very confusing and often inaccurate form of nomenclature. I would actually prefer that these studies call all of their discussed groups by their ~scientific names. It especially annoys me whenever I hear them say eg "Neanderthal", or "European", "etc." DNA, without making any reference at all to which DNA groups they are talking about.

terryt said...

"It could be related to the very earliest (pre-?)Austronesian/Austric sea expansion"

No. B4a1a1a is known as the 'Polynesian motif' because it is by far the main mt-DNA haplogroup in Polynesia, although the sub-clade B4a1a1a2 is found only in Madagascar. The haplogroup seems to have evolved as Austronesian-speaking people moved from Taiwan to the Philippines. That is far too recent for it to have been involved in ancient expansions. Its expansion is well dated to within the last 4-5000 years.

"Well, not really, geography itself is not really a problem. Most of the languages of the region, for example, are thought to derive from proto-languages from the far west of Brazil, very close to the Pacific coast".

"I think people tend to severely underestimate the mobility of ancient peoples"

I agree absolutely. However we can be sure B4a1a1a can only have arrived in America after it formed. So it has no ancient presence there.

"Frankly, if the Polynesians did reach current Peru or Chile and left a genetic legacy, it should have spread in South America beyond the area of immediate contact. Andes were a hindrance, but not a barrier that could not have been crossed."

Any group of Polynesian voyagers who arrived in America would be unlikely to have included women. But we know Polynesians (mainly from Easter Island) were taken as slaves to the west coast of South America so we could have an explanation right there. And that makes Eurologist's comment valid:

"A faint possibility is a newly-acquired wife of a sailor with Pacific duties who went AWOL or retired in 'paradise'."

Ezr said...

"But we know Polynesians (mainly from Easter Island) were taken as slaves to the west coast of South America"

But in that particular case they would be unlikely to have admixed with, of all populations, a group that was by then isolated from the larger economy - the Botocudo - or to have entered a Portuguese colony at all, for that matter.

And, although Atlantic-Pacific inland trade routes existed in ancient times, they had long been abandoned because of migration, the shift to river routes (think of the Andes-River Plate and Andes-Amazon routes) and the establishment, after a long dispute, of a Spanish-Portuguese border right in the middle of the continent.

So, if it turns out to be specifically Polynesian rather than Malagasy or something else, I doubt it is that recent. If it is very recent, it'll probably be shown to be from Malagasy slaves. In all other cases, well, we're in for some exciting surprises :) .

Annie Mouse said...

"Any group of Polynesian voyagers who arrived in America would be unlikely to have included women. "

I largely agree with your comments. But in this you are wrong. The polynesians did travel with their women, as is well documented in New Zealand, with the settling Maori.

Indeed it has even been suggested that the first canoe contained 30 people, half of whom were women.

There are certainly several stories of women in the canoes. Including one (which I recall but cant find) concerning a women leading a canoe which landed at/near Auckland. I recall the plaque. Also:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arawa_(canoe)


http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/10/23/3616026.htm

terryt said...

"in that particular case they would be unlikely to have admixed with, of all populations, a group that was by then isolated from the larger economy"

Very true. So the madagascar slaves remain the most likely scenario.

"The polynesians did travel with their women, as is well documented in New Zealand, with the settling Maori".

But the discovery of New Zealand is unlikely to have involved the presence of women. They would have been carried with a colonising voyage. So any Polynesian arrival in America is likely to have been exploration parties of fishermen blown off course. Because America was already populated such voyagers are unlikely to have gone home and then returned with their women.

"There are certainly several stories of women in the canoes. Including one (which I recall but cant find) concerning a women leading a canoe which landed at/near Auckland".

But that was on a colonising waka (canoe) at Whakatane ('whaka - do, act like; 'tane' - man):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whakatane

Quote:

"The name "Whakatane" is reputed to commemorate an incident occurring after the arrival of the Mataatua. The men had gone ashore and the canoe began to drift. Wairaka, a chieftainess, said “Kia Whakatāne au i ahau” (“I will act like a man”), and commenced to paddle (which women were not allowed to do), and with the help of the other women saved the canoe".

From the first link you provided:

"it was decided that they should set out for the newly found land of the prized pounamu(nephrite jade)"

Notice, 'newly found land'. So she wasn't involved in discovering the land. From the second link:

"The discovery that the Wairau Bar people retained significant genetic diversity casts serious doubt upon the idea of Polynesia having been settled via small accidental or unplanned voyages. Such a settlement pattern would have eliminated much genetic diversity"

We're left with two steps: 'discovery' followed by organised 'colonisation'.

eurologist said...

"But in that particular case they would be unlikely to have admixed with, of all populations, a group that was by then isolated from the larger economy - the Botocudo - or to have entered a Portuguese colony at all, for that matter. "

Ezr,

I am thinking more along the lines of a sailor or sea-faring entrepreneur who acquired a Polynesian wife and participated in the resource exploitation in Brazil in the late 18th / early 19th century (e.g., at a trading post). Apparently, there were many conflicts, and female children likely would have been taken by the Botocudo - especially if they did not look much European.

Rokus said...

Another possibility is the Botocudo are just the tip of the iceberg, that Polynesian presence in the America's was pervasive but too few of this survived the demographic disasters inflicted on Native Americans - that themselves are currently just a subset of pre-Columbian diversity.

Ezr said...

Rokus,

Yes, but we do have some ancient DNA for different areas and they always turn up the usual suspects - Amerindian A B C D X. So, while the presence could be bigger, I'm not sure it was pervasive (or maybe in regions for which we don't yet have ancient mtDNA?).

terryt said...

"I am thinking more along the lines of a sailor or sea-faring entrepreneur who acquired a Polynesian wife and participated in the resource exploitation in Brazil in the late 18th / early 19th century (e.g., at a trading post)".

Quite possible.

"that Polynesian presence in the America's was pervasive but too few of this survived the demographic disasters inflicted on Native Americans"

Unless pre-Columbian diversity was region-specific that is unlikely to be the case. We would probably get survival of major haplogroups with such demographic disasters. So Polynesians, even in the unlikely event of being present at all, would have made up a very small propportion of the population.

Rokus said...

Ezr, pervasive in the sense that a Polynesian ship was most likely to miss some tiny unknown island in the Pacific, and once on the American coasts those Polynesian adventurers may have encountered the same obstacles as the Europeans to continue their travels: virtually none. Their cultural inspiration and radius may have been enormous and encompassing both continents, while their numbers were very few. Too few, actually, to establish true Polynesian cultural centers from where they could return on a regular basis.

terryt said...

"once on the American coasts those Polynesian adventurers may have encountered the same obstacles as the Europeans to continue their travels: virtually none".

But we're dealing here with mt-DNA and those 'Polynesian adventurers' are unlikely to have included any women on their first arrival. Because the region was already populated they are unlikely to have gone home and brought their women with them on a return journey. Don't forget that the Polynesians were used to discovering uninhabited islands as they moved east.

Actually Maju has inadvertently demonstrated how 'Polynesian' mt-DNA may have reached eastern South America, although he didn't realise it. At his blog on the same subject:

http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.co.nz/2013/04/polynesian-mtdna-in-extinct-native.html?showComment=1365395781714

he wrote:

"I do not think there's any reason to think that they were involved in intercontinental trade or that they were significantly affected by European expeditions to the Pacific Ocean (in which the Portuguese were not involved anyhow, their sphere ended in Indonesia but were eventually displaced by the Netherlands and Oman, long before the Pacific discovery period".

Wrong, of course. East Timor was Portuguese until 1975:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Timor

Quote:

"East Timor was colonised by Portugal in the 16th century, and was known as Portuguese Timor until Portugal's decolonisation of the country. In late 1975, East Timor declared its independence, but later that year was invaded and occupied by Indonesia and was declared Indonesia's 27th province the following year. In 1999, following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory and East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002".

B1a1a is particularly common to the north and east of East Timor, and so Eurologist's idea is looking increasingly likely:

"a sailor or sea-faring entrepreneur who acquired a Polynesian wife and participated in the resource exploitation in Brazil in the late 18th / early 19th century (e.g., at a trading post)".

eurologist said...

Thanks for your support, Terry.

Of course, as always I am somewhat self-deprecating and realize there is a very thin line between good background knowledge coupled with making the right connections, versus having just a vivid imagination... ;)

Rokus said...

Terry, you reject female participation of Polynesian excursions and subsequently introduce a Portuguese wife picked up from East Timor or elsewhere on the Pacific route to Brazil. The authors already thought about Malagasy slaves to supply a related explanation. Did those unruly Botocudo have a penchant for the stolen brides of Portuguese enemies and their slaves? Instead, according to European sailors the Polynesian men were more than happy to share their wives in a peaceful way - what indeed could have developed on the islands as a cultural protection against inbreeding. This attitude could have helped them to conclude their excursions in a peaceful way and mix with local populations.
I am very curious how prevalent B4a1a1a would be among the current Brazilian groupings, until then I can't decide what hypothesis is most far-fetched. All I can say is that Polynesian mtDNA east of the Andes defies the statistics of some low probability historical incident.

terryt said...

"Did those unruly Botocudo have a penchant for the stolen brides of Portuguese enemies and their slaves?"

Possibly. But there are only two mt-DNA Bs amoung 14 (I think) so there might only have been one woman originally involved.

"you reject female participation of Polynesian excursions and subsequently introduce a Portuguese wife picked up from East Timor or elsewhere on the Pacific route to Brazil".

The second scenario is far more likely than the first. A Portuguese trader would have far more reason to take his wife with him on a trading journey than would Polynesians on an exploratory journey.

"The authors already thought about Malagasy slaves to supply a related explanation".

That is still probably the most likely explanation.

"according to European sailors the Polynesian men were more than happy to share their wives in a peaceful way - what indeed could have developed on the islands as a cultural protection against inbreeding. This attitude could have helped them to conclude their excursions in a peaceful way and mix with local populations".

Certainly many Polynesian men joined European ships as sailors but did not take women with them on such trips. On the other hand it is quite likely that visiting Europeans took their Polynesian 'wives' with them when thay left.

"I am very curious how prevalent B4a1a1a would be among the current Brazilian groupings"

Apparently almost non-existent as so far discovered. That is the point of the present paper.

"All I can say is that Polynesian mtDNA east of the Andes defies the statistics of some low probability historical incident".

Exactly. It is very unlikely to be the result of a Polynesian voyage of discovery.

"I am somewhat self-deprecating and realize there is a very thin line between good background knowledge coupled with making the right connections, versus having just a vivid imagination"

I apologise if that comment is directed at me. My online personality has been hugely influenced through my arguments with Maju. He provides a lot of valuable information but cannot accept that his interpreation of that information is often wrong. He has made up his mind in advance what he wants the information to show and is very obstiante in his refusla to consider alternatives. Very frustrating. Thankfully he has now banned me from commenting at his blog, so I should improve.

Rokus said...

there are only two mt-DNA Bs amoung 14 (I think) so there might only have been one woman originally involved.

"I am very curious how prevalent B4a1a1a would be among the current Brazilian groupings"

Apparently almost non-existent as so far discovered.

- So what were the odds that Botocudo's only "foreign" mtDNA was Polynesian, but not African or European?

"Certainly many Polynesian men joined European ships as sailors but did not take women with them on such trips."

- Now you are mixing European an Polynesian maritime traditions. Before, Polynesians always travelled with their families, more like nomads and small family groups than as adventurers.

"All I can say is that Polynesian mtDNA east of the Andes defies the statistics of some low probability historical incident".

Exactly. It is very unlikely to be the result of a Polynesian voyage of discovery.

- No, I referred to the (sometimes fancied) accounts of history, not prehistory.

terryt said...

"So what were the odds that Botocudo's only 'foreign' mtDNA was Polynesian, but not African or European?"

Probably much smaller odds than being either of the other two. I'm not really a gambling person but I suppose Polynesians looked more like the locals than do either of the other two populations. That may have made them more desirable members of the tribe. But we don't know the circumstances for their inclusion at this stage. However I think we can confidently rule out prehistoric presence.

"Now you are mixing European an Polynesian maritime traditions".

Two totally different traditions. You seem to have an incorrect idea of Polynesian society:

"Before, Polynesians always travelled with their families, more like nomads and small family groups than as adventurers".

Polynesians were not at all like nomads. They only included their women folk if they were visiting relations on some very nearby island or were on their way to colonise a recently discovered uninhabited region. Fishing groups were composed only of men as were the explorers (probably often fishing parties blown off course). So any chance Polynesian arrival in America would almost certainly not have included women. Once Europeans arrived many Polynesian men jumped at the chance to see the world. But they didn't take their women folk along with them even then. So again Polynesian women arriving in America are unliklely to have been accompanied by Polynesian men. We must seek a different explanation. Either as slaves or as some European's wife are the main two possibilities. Prehaistoric arrival can almost certainly be wiped off the slate.

terryt said...

I have a bit more time to comment. Note that even if you are postulating a substantial Polynesian presence in America you are limited in the time of their arrival. Polynesians didn't exist any further east than in Tonga and Samoa as recently as 2000 years ago. And they didn't reach any islands at all closer to America until just 800-1000 years ago. By that time America would have been well populated leaving no room for new arrivals at much the same technological stage.

As to the 'Polynesian' nature of the haplogroups in question. As far as I'm aware they have not been identified with any particular downstream mutation within B4a1a1a so we cannot draw valid conclusions as to where they originated. But even such a marginal group as pre-European New Zealand Maori have haplogroup B4a1a1(xB4a1a1a), not just the 'Polynesian' haplogroup B4a1a1a. So prospects are not good. American B is, in effect, B4b2 although its relationship within B has been disguised by the nomenclature B2. B4b is a clade within B4b'd'e'j, a separate clade from B4a. So Polynesian B4a1a1 is very distantly related to American B4b2.

By the way. I had a look at your blog and especially so 'Expanding Hybrids And The Rise Of Our Genetic Common Denominator'.

"Apparently, there was a host of archaic hominines out there, previously considered the evolutionary ‘dead ends’ from all over the world, whose traces can still be perceived as superimposed variability in the modern human genome".

I agree 100%.

Rokus said...

You seem to have an incorrect idea of Polynesian society:

"Before, Polynesians always travelled with their families, more like nomads and small family groups than as adventurers".

Polynesians were not at all like nomads [...] explorers (probably often fishing parties blown off course).

I have to disappoint you, there is no shred of evidence that Polynesian men made intentional 'gender' voyages to explore the ocean before setting off with their families. Their skills included all that was needed to find islands they already knew and to recognize the vicinity of land, what of course was extremely useful where islands were close together and still out of sight one from the other. Without advanced navigation equipment, or even a compass, their chanted memories and experience were not sufficient to make them true explorers, in the sense of bringing back reports of newly discovered lands. Also their kin in Madagascar is thought to have arrived by chance, in a single event and even in a single boat. The ritual ceremonies centered around the sweet potato, essentially an American import, surpassed the importance of taro, illustrating the importance of eastern Polynesia in their voyages. How did they get their in the first place before 'returning' west? There was no need for them to fish too far away from the coasts, and certainly not thousands of miles, and fishing parties blown out of course most likely never returned home. It is a common misconception that Polynesian migrations were directed to new lands, all the contrary, moving west they must have encountered a lot of islands that were already inhabited. The inhabitants of Norfolk Island came, and also left like nomads, already before the first Europeans arrived. The island attests the prehistoric import of New Zealand flax from the south, but also of bananas that didn't grow there and must have arrived from another place. I think those people didn't need to know where they were heading for next, their self-confidence to find land anywhere must have been stronger - and probably induced by religion as well - than the hope to find their way back home to their families. Have you ever heard of nomads that left their families behind? And yes, sometimes they were blown off course.

G Horvat said...

@ Terry. A quote from the article: "Mitochondrial DNA analysis from a tooth extracted from the second skull, MN00017, also revealed the presence of ...73G, 146C, 151T, 16126C, 16189C, 16217C, 16261T,
and 14022G." The 151T & 16126C combination has only been reported in Benton et al's Maori sample. A Cook Island complete sequence appears to be closely related but not the ones from Madagascar.

terryt said...

"I have to disappoint you, there is no shred of evidence that Polynesian men made intentional 'gender' voyages to explore the ocean before setting off with their families".

Do you really believe that Polynesians loaded up their canoes with their whole family then set off in some random direction in the hope of finding some uninhabited island? But, hold on. Obvioulsy that is exactly what you believe:

"I think those people didn't need to know where they were heading for next, their self-confidence to find land anywhere must have been stronger - and probably induced by religion as well"

I agree with that to some extent, but I doubt they would have trusted their families to blind providence.

"Also their kin in Madagascar is thought to have arrived by chance, in a single event and even in a single boat".

Really? I don't think all SE Asian haplogroups in Madagascar are intimately related to each other. That is certainly not the case in New Zealand as we know for sure that the first arriving females were not closely related at all. I would have thought that any voyage to Madagascar was along the coastline. I'm reasonably sure that several South Asian haplogroups have been found in Madagascar as well as SE Asian and African haplogroups.

"Without advanced navigation equipment, or even a compass, their chanted memories and experience were not sufficient to make them true explorers, in the sense of bringing back reports of newly discovered lands".

Are you here claiming they had no sense of direction? I agree the original discovery of an uninhabited island may well have been accidental but it is fairly well accepted that there was two-way voyaging even between New Zealand and Central Polynesia for some period after NZ was first discovered.

"The ritual ceremonies centered around the sweet potato, essentially an American import, surpassed the importance of taro, illustrating the importance of eastern Polynesia in their voyages. How did they get their in the first place before 'returning' west?"

By your own reasoning Polynesians who reached America could not have found their way back to Polynesia with the sweet potato. You claimed, 'Their skills included all that was needed to find islands they already knew and to recognize the vicinity of land, what of course was extremely useful where islands were close together and still out of sight one from the other'. America is a long way from any Polynesian island. From your perspective that eliminates any possibility of return voyages from America surely. On the other hand I have no doubt a group (or groups) of Polynesians reached America but I find it extremely unlikely that Polynesian women would have been part of such groups.

"It is a common misconception that Polynesian migrations were directed to new lands, all the contrary, moving west they must have encountered a lot of islands that were already inhabited".

They actually moved east, but I assume you have made a misprint here. Actually the Polynesian outliers were populated from the west. But even here the Polynesians set up homes in the more remote offshore islands, presumably previously uninhabited. Most of the new lands the Polynesians discovered were uninhabited when they first arrived.

"The inhabitants of Norfolk Island came, and also left like nomads, already before the first Europeans arrived".

Most likely died out rather than left. The Polynesians were not nomadic between islands. The islands were basically settled in an advancing wave of migration from the Bismark Archipelago.

terryt said...

Rokus, you should find this relevant, although mostly about Hawai'i:

http://pvs.kcc.hawaii.edu/ike/moolelo/discovery_and_settlement.html

"This traditional association between fishing and the discovery islands suggests that fishermen, of whatever identities, were perhaps the most frequent discoverers of islands in ancient times, either while they roamed the ocean looking for new fishing grounds or chasing schools of pelagic fish, or after they were driven off course by storms on their way to known fishing grounds. A poetic way of describing their discoveries would be to say that the fishermen caught islands, not fish. Perhaps the name of Maui was given to anyone who discovered an island, in honor of some ancestral fisherman-explorer noted for finding islands".

"This deliberate strategy of exploration, according to Irwin, involved waiting for a reversal in wind direction and sailing in the direction that is normally upwind (i.e. eastward in the Pacific) for as far as it was safe to go given the supplies that were carried on the canoe. The return home (westward) would be made easy when the wind shifted back to its normal easterly direction. Irwin believes that this strategy is supported by the west to east settlement of the Pacific, from the islands of southeast Asia and Melanesia to Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, the Society Islands, the Tuamotus, and Hiva (the Marquesas). Although no factual evidence would prove that this strategy of exploration was actually employed by Polynesian navigators, the strategy would have been obvious to anyone familiar with sailing".

There is more on Polynesian navigation, two-way voyaging, the effect of over-population, etc. But you can see that the earliest date Polynesians could have reached america is a mere thousand years ago. And the nearest Polynesian settlement to America was Rapa Nui, and from here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Island

we see that Rapa Nui was very isolated: 'The nearest inhabited land (50 residents) is Pitcairn Island at 2,075 kilometres (1,289 mi), and the nearest continental point lies in central Chile, at 3,512 kilometres (2,182 mi)'.

Rokus said...

"Also their kin in Madagascar is thought to have arrived by chance, in a single event and even in a single boat".

Really?

This was actually the conclusion of Cox et al. - A small cohort of Island Southeast Asian women founded Madagascar (2012)
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/03/15/rspb.2012.0012

Most of the new lands the Polynesians discovered were uninhabited when they first arrived.

This we only know for sure for the locations that were isolated by distances at least 1000 km from any other island: Hawaii islands, New Zealand,

maybe Easter Island. About the rest of the Polynesian 'belt' of islands we can't be sure as long the high islands of the Marquesas group keep giving

us dates up to 2000 years BP. "t’ Eijlandt Amsterdam" (Tonga) may be radiocarbon dated up to 1000 BC, but this is western Polynesia and thus may have been even one of the islands overrun by East Polynesians later on. For instance, about the Polynesian cultigens Furley (2006) says: 'the number cultivated tended to diminish away from the high islands of Eastern Polynesia.'

"The inhabitants of Norfolk Island came, and also left like nomads, already before the first Europeans arrived".

Most likely died out rather than left.

Why should they, if Polynesians indeed were so well interconnected and excellent sailors? Extinction does not make any sense. They were just highly mobile.

The islands were basically settled in an advancing wave of migration from the Bismark Archipelago.

Indeed. Soares (2010): "Polynesian maternal lineages from Island Southeast Asia gained a foothold in Near Oceania much earlier than dispersal from either Taiwan or Indonesia 3–4 ka would predict"
[...]
"These people are often considered largely responsible for the Lapita phenomenon, a cultural complex including finely decorated dentate-stamped pottery, obsidian tools, and shell ornaments that first appeared on the coasts of the Bismarck Archipelago ~3.5 ka, spreading into Remote Oceania ~3 ka."

You see this time depth may render the medieval Polynesian "explorations" largely irrelevant to events that happened much earlier, like the arrival in the Marquesas islands.

chasing schools of pelagic fish
Define pelagic fishing! Chasing fish? They could find excellent fishing spots near the coasts, so why they would chase fish for thousands of miles to have an industrial catch with just a few villags to feed? This are all anachronistic assumptions without a shred of evidence. Hawaii may have been "fished" in Polynesian tradition, but so has Tonga thousands of years earlier. Most likely this was just their way of expression in a maritime environment. The Tahitian folklore written down by Miss Teuira Henry may be more relevant to early Polynesian exploration in the voyages of brother and sister Ru and Hina in their canoe Te-apori: “After exploring the earth, Hina’s love of discovery did not cease. So one evening when the full moon was shining invitingly, being large and half visible at the horizon, she set off in her canoe to make it a visit.” Hence it's one of their own women the Polynesian see in the moon, luring behind the horizon (Another reason why women had better join their men for their journeys?).

the earliest date Polynesians could have reached america is a mere thousand years ago

From/to the Marquesas Islands they could have departed/returned up to 2000 years ago. I strongly suspect the sweet potato to have entered here first.

terryt said...

"The 151T & 16126C combination has only been reported in Benton et al's Maori sample. A Cook Island complete sequence appears to be closely related but not the ones from Madagascar".

Thanks. That narrows the source population. In fact it makes Rapa Nui the most likely source as we could assume they would be genetically close to NZ Maori.

terryt said...

Rokus. I don't understand what you're trying to get at here. Are you claiming Polynesians came from America? I thought that belief had been well and truly disposed of. Thanks for the useful link on Madagascar though. Turning first to it:

"This was actually the conclusion of Cox et al. - A small cohort of Island Southeast Asian women founded Madagascar (2012)"

The abstract says:

"Maximum-likelihood estimates favour a scenario in which Madagascar was settled approximately 1200 years ago by a very small group of women (approx. 30), most of Indonesian descent (approx. 93%). This highly restricted founding population raises the possibility that Madagascar was settled not as a large-scale planned colonization event from Indonesia, but rather through a small, perhaps even unintended, transoceanic crossing".

Thirty women? In a small, perhaps even unintended, transoceanic crossing? Unlikely. I can accept 30 women but an unintended crossing from somewhere in SE ASia seems very unlikely. And the authors even doubt the 'unintended crossing' theory near the end of the paper. Earlier they contradict the idea with:

"a burst of continuous settlement activity is clearly in evidence around the middle of the first millennium AD"

'Continuous settlement' doesn't sound 'accidental'. However the presence and age of the Malagasy motif suggests basically an extended family group rather than a random sample of SE Asian population. And this:

"Perhaps it arose among the earliest Indonesian colonists to Madagascar, subsequently sweeping to high frequency either in Madagascar or somewhere along the path of their travel (e.g. putative stopping points along the east African coast)".

'Stopping points'? Did they already know which places would be best to stop at? Perhaps they did:

"This date is consistent with evidence from linguistics, which links the colonization of Madagascar to the expansion of Indonesian trading networks during the Srivijaya Empire [2]. Srivijaya reached its peak in the ninth century, but remained a major maritime power in the Indian Ocean until well into the thirteenth century, consistent with the time frame suggested by our simulations".

Seems some SE Asians at the time knew a great deal about the Indian Ocean. Finally:

"merchants have plied coastal Indian Ocean trade routes between east Africa and northern China at least since the Roman era [12]. However, early written records imply that these trading voyages were dominated by men; there is no mention of women on board long-distance trading vessels"

Hmmm.

terryt said...

"From/to the Marquesas Islands they could have departed/returned up to 2000 years ago. I strongly suspect the sweet potato to have entered here first".

Quite possibly the mystery arrivals in America came from the Marquesas. But those islands are completely within the Polynesian region although it is likely they were the first of the Eastern Polynesian islands to be colonised. Probably direct from Tonga:

"(Tonga) may be radiocarbon dated up to 1000 BC, but this is western Polynesia and thus may have been even one of the islands overrun by East Polynesians later on".

I have never heard the idea that Tonga, or anywhere else, was 'overrun by East Polynesians later on'. Where on earth did you get that idea from? If anything the 'over-running' was in the opposite direction, with Melanesian people moving east behind the original settlers.

"This we only know for sure [uninhabited] for the locations that were isolated by distances at least 1000 km from any other island: Hawaii islands, New Zealand, maybe Easter Island. About the rest of the Polynesian 'belt' of islands we can't be sure as long the high islands of the Marquesas group keep giving us dates up to 2000 years BP"

All the islands beyond the northern Solomons were uninhabited until the Austronesian-speaking people reached them. And they reached even the most westerly of these Remote Oceanian islands (Tonga, Samoa and Fiji) no more than 3-4000 years ago. But even by 2000 years ago all of America would have been populated leaving no region for these Polynesians to establish their own colony, let alone expand across the Andes.

"Why should they, if Polynesians indeed were so well interconnected and excellent sailors? Extinction does not make any sense. They were just highly mobile".

From that comment I take it you have never been sailing. Not every Polynesian is, or was, an excellent sailor.

"You see this time depth may render the medieval Polynesian 'explorations' largely irrelevant to events that happened much earlier, like the arrival in the Marquesas islands'.

You are ignoring the fact that the Marquesas Islanders are descended from the Lapita people who 'first appeared on the coasts of the Bismarck Archipelago ~3.5 ka, spreading into Remote Oceania ~3 ka'. And to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa about the same time, but not beyond until later. They reached the Marquesas, perhaps as long ago as 2000 years, as part of your 'medieval Polynesian explorations'.

"They could find excellent fishing spots near the coasts, so why they would chase fish for thousands of miles to have an industrial catch with just a few villags to feed?"

You're obvioulsy not a fisherman either. As populations grow the easily exploitable resources shrink. It becomes necessary to move further offshore to be sure of a decent catch. Not necessarily 'thousands of miles' but sometimes out of sight of land.

"Hawaii may have been 'fished' in Polynesian tradition, but so has Tonga thousands of years earlier".

Not 'thousands of years earlier'. Two at the most.

"This are all anachronistic assumptions without a shred of evidence".

Hang on a minute. You have provided not the slightest bit of evidence for your theory. In fact it is very difficult to discern what your theory is. All my comments are entirely based on actual widely accepted evidence.

terryt said...

Sorry to add yet another comment to this thread but I've been considering Norfolk Island. Rokus wrote:

"The inhabitants of Norfolk Island came, and also left like nomads, already before the first Europeans arrived. The island attests the prehistoric import of New Zealand flax from the south"

Seems the flax may be indigenous to Norfolk, as with many other plants:

http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/107104/Cun114407Mil.pdf

Quote:

"The flora of Norfolk Island (latitude 290 02’ south) is
subtropical in character and, not surprisingly, exhibits
affinities with the closest landmasses, particularly those to
the west; 51 percent of the species is shared with Australia,
33 percent with New Zealand, 21 percent with New
Caledonia and 6 percent with Fiji (Mills 2007). About 39
percent is shared with Lord Howe Island, the closest land
to the west (about 900 km away)".

And:

"Reported differences in the physical features of the
Norfolk Island plants compared to New Zealand plants (M.
Christian, Norfolk Island, pers. comm.) and the habitat in
which they grow do seem to support an indigenous status.
In all likelihood, Phormium tenax is indigenous to Norfolk
Island, as there is no real evidence that it was brought
there by Polynesians".

As for the idea that people could not have 'died out' on Norfolk. Remember that, unlike the islands in Central Polynesia, Norfolk Island was too remote for the population to establish occassional genetic links to other populations. Most of the original people, if not all of them, would probably have been closely related. And the island was too small to sustain a large enough population to offset inbreeding. Result: extinction. Simple?