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Genographic Researchers in Australia Uncover Unique Branches of the Human Family Tree

by Amy Werner

Are You Up on Geno Research Down Under?

Genographic Project scientists in Melbourne, Australia have just published their exciting new finds from years of work across the vast southern continent. Detailed in a new paper in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Dr. Robert Mitchell, student Nano Nagle, and their team of researchers worked with 657 Aboriginal Australian men mapping and dating the genetic diversity of the Australian Y chromosome.

An aboriginal man. Photo by Robert Goodman
An Aboriginal Man. Photo by Robert Goodman

Earlier work in Australia had suggested that Aborigines were descendants from the first migrants to leave Africa some 60 thousand years ago. The hypothesis suggests that when modern humans left Africa they remained in tropical regions, migrating north, then east and south around the Indian Ocean through India, Southeast Asia, eventually reaching Australia. Thus, understanding the origins of Australians is paramount to mapping the earliest human migrations.

The data from Nagle and Mitchell’s work supports an early entry into Australia through New Guinea some 50,000 years ago. However, their findings also show that indigenous New Guineans and Aboriginal Australians had been living isolated from one another for more than 30,000 years. Interestingly, before there was even an Australia and New Guinea, lower ocean levels exposed the seafloor between the two lands creating a supercontinent known as Sahul. Never having been connected to Asia, Sahul became the evolutionary birthplace to unique fauna such as marsupials, like kangaroos and koalas, which are found nowhere else in the world. These were the animals and plants the early migrants would have encountered upon first reaching the land down under. And these early migrants are the ancestors of modern Aboriginal Australians.

Smiling boys on a beach in Northen Territory, Australia. Photo by Howell Walker
Smiling Boys on a Beach in Northen Territory, Australia. Photo by Howell Walker

The Genographic study of Australian Aborigines included larger wider coverage of the continent than any previous work, and the percentage of rare haplogroups—genetically-related groups who share a common ancestor—was high and geographically distributed. A total of 292 individuals belonged to one of several uniquely Australian haplogroups: C-M347, K-M526, S-P308 or M-186 found throughout Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territories. Five men were belonged to the ancient haplogroup C-M130, for example, with no close relatives outside the continent. Whereas haplogroup C-M347 was present in 19% of the Aboriginal men, yet it is branch unique to Australia.

Migration route for Archaic haplogroup C-M130. Photo courtesy of www.genographic.com.
Migration Route for Archaic Haplogroup C-M130. Courtesy of www.genographic.com

In contrast, 56 percent of Aboriginal men had paternally-inherited Y chromosomes not native to Australia, and commonly associated with either Europe or Asia. This European genetic influence denotes the impact of the centuries-long colonization and the subsequent loss of the Aboriginal male lineages during the British reign that began in the 18th century.

To learn more about this and other Genographic Project research visit www.genographic.com.


  1. Cynthia Allen McLaglen
    United Kingdom
    August 20, 8:28 pm

    Cain (M139) and Manju (L3) Haplogroupsare very ancient. Manju (L3)mis found in Africa and India, the Andaman Islands and Burma and Indonesia but she dominates Australia, as does Cain. Cain is also found in the Andaman and Australia and is the muaution from Seth, which is also very ancient, They got to Australia around 65,000 years ago and the time that they did was when the oceans were 300 foot lower because of the Ice Age.

  2. Cynthia Allen McLaglen
    August 20, 8:22 pm

    Cain (M130) comes from Seth in India and is still found there. Cain (and Manju (L3) the female equivalent or companion,) is also found in Africa and is very ancient; India; Burma; Andaman Islands( with Cain), Indonesia and Australia (with Cain). DNA shows the first long journeys of Human Kind. He would have travelled with other Haplogroups as would Manju. Manju is the ancestor of the majority of Females in Europe. See the Bradshaw Foundation and select the Interactive map for the whole story. The whole story of all human kind all over the world. From Africa, India was the first serious stop and from there the rest of the world came. Africa has the most diverse people in the world and India the second most divrse in the world.

  3. Adrian
    June 26, 2:26 pm

    I still don’t understand with an Australian Aborigines, Papuan, Melanesian and Oceanian who belongs to Y DNA Haplogroups K-M526, M-186 and S-P308. Why they’re have same ancestors with Central Asian Y DNA Haplogroups P, Q and R?
    What happen with an Australian Aborigines and Mongolian Y DNA Haplogroup C*? Maybe this Haplogroups even older than a carriers of a Y DNA Hg NO, N, O, MS, PQR; or even with the Y DNA Haplogroup H.IJ, I and J. I never imagines when Chinese and Malays have more connections with Middle Easterner and European both from their Paternal and Maternal Line. Not all of East Eurasians have an R descendants: Haplogroups R11, B, R9, F and P, while a Western Eurasian Haplogroups N, N1, I, X, W, R, HV, H, V, JT, J, T, U, K.

  4. Ui Neil Mah El Mon Sandidge
    United Kingdom
    August 27, 2016, 12:09 pm

    We have two first Families of All Wisdom and Understanding on Earth, and while inconvenient for some people, the notion of a shrubbery being more than at least two distinct shrubs, feels very helpful to me in figuring out, what architecturally and more important agricultural dispersal lowest impact must be true, = Uganda as the those who fled in 1284 AD and made a summer vacation home or retreat point from Baghdad, and then the mystery that makes me very sad, but i am willing to defer to as the master architect DNA of all earth having retreated to because of Magnetite being the secret to human tools and navigation, the DNA of Puzzle Stone Chile and Deepest Brazil. China should be alerted that they are definitely a third shrubbery, but they and japan have been infected by the Glow in Dark monkey of White Hair misconceptions. Darker, born adapted to sunlight or Equatorial Axis Ready DNA is the highest Value. The corruption of a Polar Axis and Aryan Sweden Bohemia replacing Arius Agypt, is the same issue as Axis Equatorial DNA Skin of Chile and Uganda being the first and where lowest impact food production methods exist, then arguably the highest evolutionary point of the Human Species, if the goal it to exist without making extinct all natural life in your surroundings.

  5. Adrian Purnomo
    April 6, 2016, 12:17 pm

    Are men who carrier Y Hg C*-M130 and D*-M174 were counterpart with the people (men and women) who belongs to mtDNA Hg M*, M1, M2,…..CZ, D, E, G and Q?

    • Miguel Vilar
      April 6, 2016, 2:22 pm

      That is a good question, and the answer is possibly. The best way to guess at it would be to look at the age of each of those haplogroups in that same region.

  6. Jolanta
    April 3, 2016, 10:13 pm

    Mr. Vilar, I’ve been reading the posts re: recent family tree research in Australia. How fascinating!
    I would love to know which one of the Os… Cs….etc I am? I’ve submitted my samples (Genome 2.0 Project) but have not heard from anyone yet.
    Please advise.
    Cheers, Jolanta

    • Miguel Vilar
      April 6, 2016, 2:22 pm

      Hello Jolanta,
      How long ago did you send in your sample? Feel free to email me at mvilar@ngs.org and I can help track your sample for you.

  7. Johan
    February 24, 2016, 10:09 am

    On Genographic Project website, the heatmap of migration for archaic Y Hg C*-M130 have similarities with a heatmap of an mtDNA Hg M*. My cousins was belongs to mtDNA Hg M8a3a, an uncommon mtDNA lineage and Y Hg O-CTS4960. His Autosomal DNA was 56% Southeast Asian and Oceanian – 44% Eastern Asian + 1,4% Neanderthal from Geno 2,0 NG results. But, my Old Geno 2,0 DNA Test results were: mtDNA Hg B4c2, Y Hg O-CTS5492. My Autosomal DNA was 65% Northeast Asian – 35% Southeast Asian and i estimated about 1,2% Neanderthal – 0,6% Denisovan DNA.

  8. Lyle Warren
    January 19, 2016, 12:53 am

    Really interesting stuff.

    I’d there a published paper on this research? I want able to find anything on the genographic site. Also, was the data from this study made publicly available?

  9. David Cooper
    Melbourne, Australia
    January 11, 2016, 12:23 am

    Has anyone been able to isolate DNA from Tasmanian Aboriginal people? (The DNA would need to come from Museum samples if they exist) but it would be interesting to compare any differences given the isolation they had from mainland Australia.

    Also did this study comment on the levels of Denisovan DNA that they found?

    • Miguel Vilar
      January 11, 2016, 11:49 am

      I don’t know of any work on Tasmanian Aboriginal samples, but that would be very interesting. A group based in Adelaide led by Dr. Alan Cooper has begun a large nationwide project on Ancient DNA from museum samples. It would be interesting to see how it evolves.

  10. Johan
    December 23, 2015, 10:04 pm

    Can you explain to me about the difference about Asians men with an ancient paternal Y Hg C*-M130 and Y Hg O*-M175? These Haplogroup are quite difference to each other.

    • Miguel Vilar
      January 5, 2016, 10:48 am

      AS you mention, Y haplogroup C- M130 and O-M175 are very distantly related. Although C-M130 is ancestral to all C’s, globally found, a very ancient lineage (55,000 years old or more), and we call them C*-M130 because they do not fall into any of the known sub-branches of C (C1, C2, C3, C4). O*-M175, on the other hand, we know is an O, but cannot place it in any known subgroup (O1, O2…) but it is clearly a lineage of East Asian origin, and much younger than C by at least 10,000 years.

  11. Johan
    December 23, 2015, 4:44 pm

    Today, i already know when a Mongolian Y Hg C3-M217 and Australian Aborigines Y Hg C4-M347 share a common ancient ancestor via Paternal line, a Y Hg C*-M130 in the coast line in South and Southeast Asia. Basically, by Paternal line, a South and Central Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysians, Western Indonesian, etc Y Hg O*-M175 are distantly different with them, Australian Aborigines and Mongolian and Y Hg O*-M175 share a same ancestors of Y Hg N*-LLY22, MS*, P*-M45, Q* and R*: A Y Hg F*-M89 – Y Hg HIJK-M576 – Y Hg K*-M9 and Y Hg K2*-M526 / MNOPS.