Scientists rejig human evolution, Indians ancestors of East Asians (Lead)

December 11th, 2009 - 6:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) The ancestors of the present-day populations of China, Japan and other east Asian countries had migrated from India, scientists from 10 countries including India said Friday after achieving a breakthrough in the study of the evolution of humans and their spread across the world.
“This is path breaking. This large study establishes that Indians are ancestors of Japanese, Chinese and all other East Asians,” Samir Brahmachari, director general of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) told IANS Friday.

According to the study, people from India moved to southeast Asia and east Asia. “They all have a common genetic origin. It shows that India represents a microcosm of Asia’s genetic diversity,” Brahmachari, who was a key researcher in this study, later informed media persons here.

Scientists said that earlier it was believed that several groups of people from Africa entered India, China, Japan and other eastern Asian regions separately.

“But this study now negates them all. There was only a single group of entry from southern Africa to India around 100,000 years ago. They entered India through land but in and around the coastal belt. They slowly spread to southern India and moved to south east and east Asian regions,” the CSIR chief added.

He said these Indians and their genetic mutation variety slowly migrated to other parts of Asia. “This will give a new meaning to human evolution theory and its spread.”

The study, which traces the “genetic origins of Asian population” was conducted by 90 scientists from 10 countries in over 30 scientific institutions. At least 10 scientists from three key Indian science research labs were part of the study.

It took five years for these top scientists to come up with these new findings which will pave the way for more historical, medical and anthropological studies.

Congratulating Indian scientists and the “path breaking study”, Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan said: “It has important implications, in furthering the understanding of migratory patterns in human history and for the study of genetics and diseases.”

It also has political ramifications, he noted. “In spite of many political differences, these Asian nations worked together to produce such a study that has wide implication on the origin of people. The study suggest that there was a single initial entry into the continent of Asia, instead of multiple inflows,” Chavan added.

Ten countries - India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand - were part of the study.

“You can say, Indians are the ancestors of Asians,” Rajesh Gokhale, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), said. Gokhale, whose institute also participated in the study, said it will help India to usher in the era of affordable personalised and predictive healthcare.

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