DNA Study Reveals: Native Americans Had Contact With Polynesians Over 800 Years Ago Despite Being Separated By Thousands Of Miles Of Ocean

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DNA Study Reveals: Native Americans Had Contact With Polynesians Over 800 Years Ago Despite Being Separated By Thousands Of Miles Of Ocean

Photograph: Jorge Vega/Reuters


An amazing new landmark study, using DNA tracking, has revealed that Native American peoples and Polynesians had direct contact as far back as the 1200s. This relationship between the two groups was completely unknown and unheard of until now and casts an entirely new light on the workings of the world over 800 years ago.


The Polynesian islands which sit in the Pacific Ocean are thousands of kilometres by sea from South America, but it is now evident that the two groups had at least some interaction with each other and that they must have therefore travelled monumental distances by boat. What is not clear is whether the Native peoples of South America travelled all the way to Polynesia or whether Polynesian people travelled to South America, or both.


An author of the study, Andreas Moreno-Estrada, of Mexico's National Laboratory of Genomics for biodiversity, told AFP news agency:


"These findings change our understanding of one of the most unknown chapters in the history of our species' great continental expansions."
Lead author of the study, Alexander Ioannidis, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, went on to say just how important the landmark study was. He said:


"It is more likely that Polynesians reached the Americas, given their voyaging technology and demonstrated ability to cross thousands of miles of open ocean. By measuring the length of the small Native American pieces of DNA in Polynesians, we can estimate how many generations ago the contact occurred."


He added:


"Much of history has relied on written accounts, which are generally controlled by, and focus on, those who rule. Genetics and data science are now allowing us to tell the perhaps even more incredible – and no less true – stories of the rest of humanity."


The study involved taking DNA samples from 800 people in 15 indigenous South American groups and 17 Polynesian groups. It was clear from the DNA evaluation that these different groups had mixed DNA, meaning they had bred with each other as far back as 800 years ago, a time when Genghis Khan was invading Europe.


There has long been speculation that the two groups met previously. With one clue being the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are native to the Americas but we know they have also been cultivated on Polynesian islands for a very long time. It is also known that the words used for sweet potato were indeed very similar in both South America and Polynesia. While some speculated that the potato had travelled by other means between the two locations there is now a much clearer indication that it was deliberately transported.


The study is a remarkable insight into the forgotten worlds we are still learning so much about.

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Thinking Humanity: DNA Study Reveals: Native Americans Had Contact With Polynesians Over 800 Years Ago Despite Being Separated By Thousands Of Miles Of Ocean
DNA Study Reveals: Native Americans Had Contact With Polynesians Over 800 Years Ago Despite Being Separated By Thousands Of Miles Of Ocean
An amazing new landmark study, using DNA tracking, has revealed that Native American peoples and Polynesians had direct contact as far back as the 1200s. This relationship between the two groups was completely unknown and unheard of until now and casts an entirely new light on the workings of the world over 800 years ago.
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