In September of 2016 Professor Eske Willerslev, Cambridge University, published a paper in Nature which revealed that his team had detected traces of an unknown human species in the genome of Original Australasian people. Shortly after this incredible claim, a second separate study revealed that there was indeed a missing human population evidenced in the genome of the ancient peoples of Australia and Papua. What has not been discussed is the paradigm shattering implications.
When you see the British broadsheet newspaper The Telegraph run a headline which starts with Indigenous Australians most ancient civilisation on Earth you can rest assured that something incredible has happened. The media almost never refer to the immense antiquity of Australian populations in such a direct fashion, certainly not to the fact the most ancient civilisation of Earth was there. Which it was, and still is, just barely.
The Telegraph piece starts off with the standard mumbling of assumptions involving some very familiar numbers, Original Australasian people are a 50,000-year-old population, their ancestors left Africa 72,000 years ago. These assumptions almost always start any news story involving this population group, once you see those numbers you can be sure that everything which follows will be square peg discoveries hammered into the round hole of Out of Africa Theory. This article was just that, the only mumbling of discord being a remaining question as to whether Australasians are from one wave of Africans or from two.
The real meat in the piece only comes further down the page, be aware that it is, in fact, a very badly written article (apparently, the Telegraph can’t afford a proofreader), where we, at last, discover something new.
“Aboriginal Australians and Papuans met and interbred with the unknown race of humans, who may have had links with Siberian Denisovans, as they migrated out of Africa.”
If you know about recent studies involving mapping of the genome of ancient populations in Australasia, you will already know that the only place on Earth where we see evidence of a Homo sapiens and Denisovan interbreeding event, is Australasia. The exact figure for levels of Denisovan DNA inclusion seems to vary between 3-6% on average, depending on which report you read. Willerslev reveals that a further 4% of the genome comes from the newly detected human species. This latest addition would give us potentially 13% non-Homo sapiens DNA among Australasian peoples (including Neanderthal DNA already observed within the genome).
The same story was covered by many media outlets, an article on Phys.org provides much more detail of how the sequencing of the complete genetic information of 83 Aboriginal Australians, as well as 25 Papuans from New Guinea, answers a wide range of questions in anthropology studies. They remind us that previous studies have involved very small samples, in fact, one of the most interesting related studies in recent years involved a single hair (which itself revealed that Original Australasians were separate from other modern humans by over 70,000 years ago).
Despite this being a wider sample set it is also not wide enough. Every time a study in Australasia looks at a wide range of samples they find evidence of an older ancestry and more anomalies. The second study relevant here was a computer analysis of archaic hominin DNA traces. The study, led by statistical geneticist Ryan Bohlender, concluded that a portion of DNA associated with Denisovans was in fact from an unknown hominin species. This seems to offer strong support for Willerslev’s findings, though it does call into question figures given for how much of the genome is from Denisovan or ‘unknown hominins’. Bohlender suggests that what we assumed was all Denisovan DNA, was in fact from two similar hominins, distant cousins of each other.
All of this is fascinating but we see no evidence of a single scientist willing to state the obvious about these results. Almost the entire scientific community (with a few exceptions) supports the claim that Original Australasians entered their continent 50,000 years ago and became isolated there. Further to this, it is held that this was a singular event, no other human group or second population of hominins managed to cross the Wallace Line until very recent historical times. These people are therefore a frozen time capsule of African DNA. The only foreign DNA they can have is from Neanderthals, supposedly picked up as they passed through Asia.
So, correct me if I am wrong. Australasians mated with two other human species that they did not encounter in Africa, no trace of any of those races there (not even of Neanderthals) and did not encounter in Asia, where the highest traces of Denisovan are around 0.1% in East Asians. They also could not have interbred in Australasia because Homo sapiens were the only humans able to get there. Despite all this, the people of the region are unique in having significant levels of DNA from these two mysterious human populations.
Conclusion, the interbreeding event must have occurred in the ruddy twilight zone! There is not another location left for it. If we suggest anywhere else at all we might risk seeing a huge chunk of glacier break away from the mass of permafrost that is the never changing Out of Africa Theory. Rather than attempt to explain this latest anomaly the scientists will probably sit in a big circle holding hands whilst they attempt to visualise the evidence going away. It should not take our greatest minds to notice that these findings present a huge flaw in the consensus theory. Yet, bewildering as it is, the greatest minds on Earth can’t seem to see the problem at all. Will somebody please tell them the emperor is as naked as the day he was born!
The furthest we see any of these researchers go is to suggest that Homo sapiens probably encountered these other hominins ‘near Sahul’ (Australasia as it was before sea level rise). I would like them to point at a map and show me exactly how near? Was it under the sea off Bondi beach? Was it up in the clouds above Uluru rock?
The facts on the ground, the findings from genomes and all common sense, these place this ancient interbreeding in one location only, Australasia. This is the only continent where at least three species of humans were living side-by-side, long before the first African stuck a bone through his nose, oh, and by the way, that also happened first in Australia!
Indigenous Australians most ancient civilisation on Earth, extensive DNA study confirms – The Telegraph
Unprecedented study of Aboriginal Australians points to one shared Out of Africa migration for modern humans – Phys.org
Aboriginal Australians, Pacific Islanders carry DNA of unknown human species, research analysis suggests – abc.net.au
DNA data offer evidence of unknown extinct human relative – Science News
Clever sub-species bred with ancient Australians – Australian Geographic
Bruce Fenton is an ancient mysteries and human origins researcher based in Australia. He is author of the book The Forgotten Exodus – The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution.