are these people and where do they come from." To address the question, two teams of researchers recently analyzed the islanders' DNA. Erika Hagelberg of the University of Oslo worked with blood samples from the Onge and Jarawa; she also extracted mitochondrial DNA from hair samples that had been collected from the Greater Andamanese by the ethnographer Alfred Radcliffe-Brown from 1906 to 1908._A second team, led by Alan Cooper of the University of Oxford, obtained mitochondrial DNA from a collection of Andamanese skulls in the Natural History Museum in London; the ancient DNA was extracted from the pulp of teeth.
Both teams found that the Andamanese belonged to the M2 mitochondrial lineage, and infer that they were part of the early migration of humans from Africa into southern Asia. The Y chromosomes of the Onge and Jarawa confirm the view that the Andamanese are an ancient, Asian people. Their physical similarities with the African pygmies seem therefore to be what biologists call a convergent feature, meaning one acquired by independent evolution. Presumably when people start to live in forests, there are advantages in developing particular characteristics like short stature and steatopygia. The Biaka pygmies of the Central African Republic and the Mbuti pygmies of the Congo belong to different mitochondrial DNA lineages and presumably evolved pygmy stature independently of each other and the Andamanese.
With their dark skin and other African features, the Andamanese and other australoid peoples may represent what the early inhabitants of East Asia and Europe looked like before being displaced many thousands of years later by people from northern latitudes.
Another clue to the great age of the Andaman Islanders comes from language. Like the ancient !Kung and Hadza click languages, the Andamanese languages are isolates, meaning they are unlike each other and unlike any known language. The linguist Edward Sapir is said to have told his students that the world's languages are divided into two classes, Andamanese and all the rest.106 This distinctiveness is another sign of great antiquity, Joseph Greenberg, in his classification of the world's languages, placed Andamanese in a superfamily he called Indo-Pacific. The other members of Indo-Pacific are Tasmanian and the ancient Papuan languages of New Guinea. Like several of Greenberg's classifications, Indo-Pacific is not widely accepted by other linguists. But the grouping can now be seen to have put together languages that have another striking feature in common—all are spoken by people in remote regions who may be descendants of the first migration of modern humans from Africa to the foundered continent of Sahul.
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