Language continuity despite population replacement in Remote Oceania

Cosimo Posth, Kathrin Nägele, Heidi Colleran, Frédérique Valentin, Stuart Bedford, Kaitip W. Kami, Richard Shing, Hallie Buckley, Rebecca Kinaston, Mary Walworth, Geoffrey R. Clark, Christian Reepmeyer, James Flexner, Tamara Maric, Johannes Moser, Julia Gresky, Lawrence Kiko, Kathryn J. Robson, Kathryn Auckland, Stephen J. OppenheimerAdrian V.S. Hill, Alexander J. Mentzer, Jana Zech, Fiona Petchey, Patrick Roberts, Choongwon Jeong, Russell D. Gray, Johannes Krause*, Adam Powell

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    81 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Recent genomic analyses show that the earliest peoples reaching Remote Oceania- A ssociated with Austronesian-speaking Lapita culture-were almost completely East Asian, without detectable Papuan ancestry. However, Papuan-related genetic ancestry is found across present-day Pacific populations, indicating that peoples from Near Oceania have played a significant, but largely unknown, ancestral role. Here, new genome-wide data from 19 ancient South Pacific individuals provide direct evidence of a so-far undescribed Papuan expansion into Remote Oceania starting ~2,500 yr bp, far earlier than previously estimated and supporting a model from historical linguistics. New genome-wide data from 27 contemporary ni-Vanuatu demonstrate a subsequent and almost complete replacement of Lapita-Austronesian by Near Oceanian ancestry. Despite this massive demographic change, incoming Papuan languages did not replace Austronesian languages. Population replacement with language continuity is extremely rare-if not unprecedented-in human history. Our analyses show that rather than one large-scale event, the process was incremental and complex, with repeated migrations and sex-biased admixture with peoples from the Bismarck Archipelago.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)731-740
    Number of pages10
    JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
    Volume2
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

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