From the Guardian (hat tip: Paul Halsall), something I’ve always wondered about:
Indigenous Americans and Polynesians bridged vast expanses of open ocean around the year 1200 and mingled, leaving incontrovertible proof of their encounter in the DNA of present-day populations, new studies have revealed.
Whether peoples from what is today Colombia or Ecuador drifted thousands of kilometres to tiny islands in the middle of the Pacific, or whether seafaring Polynesians sailed upwind to South America and then back again, is still unknown.
But what is certain, according to a study in Nature, is that it took place hundreds of years before Europeans set foot in either region, and left individuals scattered across what became French Polynesia with signature traces of the New World in their DNA.
“These findings change our understanding of one of the most unknown chapters in the history of our species’ great continental expansions,” the senior author Andreas Moreno-Estrada, principal investigator at Mexico’s National Laboratory of Genomics for biodiversity, told AFP.
Read the whole thing.