February 7, 2012 16:00
Brave sailors from Southeast Asia colonized the Pacific islands at about the same time when the ancestors of the Indians made it to South America. Do these people have never met?
In 1971, an immunologist at the University of Oslo (Norway), Eric Thoresby began to study the population of Easter Island, hoping to establish the presence or absence of ancient contacts between Polynesians and Native Americans. According to new data obtained by his group, we can at least assume that either first visited South America and back, or the second to come to the shore of Easter Island.
The famous stone heads on Easter Island (photo P. Drozd / Creative Commons).
Rapa Nui, as the natives call it, is located 3700 kilometers west of South America. In 1860, part of the islanders were deported to Peru, so mixing Polynesian and Native American genes may relate to this time. Fortunately, this obstacle can be overcome.
As expected, most of the markers indicates the genes common among Polynesians. At the same time, the human leukocyte antigen (these genes encode proteins required for the immune system) gave a few alleles that are unique to Native Americans. They are found in two different haplotypes in people who do not have relatives. These and other indirect genetic evidence suggests that the alleles appeared in natives of Easter Island before they were sent to Peru.
The conclusion is that Polynesians visited South America in the XV-XVI centuries, and possibly returning, they took with them the Indians. However, the researchers emphasize that speculative statements. Have not been able to prove with certainty that the genes of Native Americans made it to the Rapa Nui without the help of Europeans. In order to remove all the questions you need to find the skeletons of the islanders, who died before 1722, but these do not.
Other scientists see hints of contact between Polynesians and the population of the New World. Some plants (such as sweet potatoes) come from the Andes, but somehow spread to the islands of the Pacific Ocean long before the arrival of Europeans. Specialists also noticed similarities in languages and artistic styles western South America and Polynesia. Lacking only archaeological evidence.