Chicken bones tell true story of Pacific migration
Did the Polynesians beat Columbus to South America? Not according to the tale of migration uncovered by analysis of ancient DNA from chicken bones recovered in archaeological digs across the Pacific.
The ancient DNA has been used to study the origins and dispersal of ancestral Polynesian chickens, reconstructing the early migrations of people and the animals they carried with them.
The study, led by the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) and published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, reveals that previous claims of contact between early Polynesians and South America were probably based on contaminated results. Instead, the new study has identified and traced a unique genetic marker of the original Polynesian chickens that is only present in the Pacific and Island Southeast Asia.
The research team of national and international collaborators, including Australian National University, University of Sydney, and Durham and Aberdeen Universities in the UK, used female-inherited mitochondrial DNA extracted from chicken bones excavated in archaeological digs from islands including Hawaii, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Niue.