Blog · May 1, 2022

Island-Hopping: Genetics Reveal How Humans Settled Remote Pacific

Ancient Clues in Modern DNA

“The date we found for that contact is very close to the dates we find for these voyages out from the Tuamotus to settle these remote islands,” Ioannidis said.

Today’s Polynesian populations have mixed heritage, with traces of Europe, Africa and other places in their ancestry.

While genetic studies of ancient peoples have tended to focus on ancient DNA samples unearthed from archaeological sites, Ioannidis said his team had been able to home in on telltale sequences buried in modern DNA.

They used a software to analyze samples from 430 inhabitants across 21 different islands to identify recurring gene patterns specific to Polynesians, blocking out DNA sequences associated with European or other ancestry.