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First Americans May Have Been Australian 79

DarthVeda writes "There are some surprising new findings that suggest the first inhabitants of America may have come from down under rather than Siberia. The research is based off of 'distinctive' skulls that predate known Native American skulls. The researchers intend to use extracted DNA to help prove their findings."
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First Americans May Have Been Australian

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  • by Leffe ( 686621 )
    Will we be seing something like the Scopes Trial [wikipedia.org] or has the world changed?
  • Huh. (Score:1, Offtopic)

    I thought they looked familiar.

    Alex.
  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @05:05PM (#10222876)
    There have been indications of this sort of thing for some time, but it's very politically contentious. Kennewick man is one example. There have been some ideas that the people in Tierra Del Fuego had different origins from other groups in South America (Indicating perhaps they were remnants of a previous group coming to the Americas that were displaced by later arrivals).

    The main effect is to slow down either supporting or falsifying the ideas about earlier human groups in the western hemisphere.

    It's an area where peoples sense of origin and cultural place are on the line, and that's often a very sensitive spot. This leads to a lot of questioning of motives of the scientists in doing the research (i.e. They're trying to say we were just another set of invaders), and of the native groups when they want remains turned over before study (i.e. They're trying to hinder our research.).
    • This leads to a lot of questioning of motives of the scientists in doing the research

      ?!?!?!

      How about "they're scientists".

      No don't study that Dr it might be politically contentious.

      Seriously, scientists found evidence and are investigating, because that's their job. Science doesn't start with a conclusion and work backwards (except "creation science"). You gather evidence and try to draw conclusions, and they are often unpopular.
      • by damiangerous ( 218679 ) <1ndt7174ekq80001@sneakemail.com> on Saturday September 11, 2004 @05:21PM (#10222981)
        Seriously, scientists found evidence and are investigating, because that's their job. Science doesn't start with a conclusion and work backwards (except "creation science")

        You are naive if you believe that. "Scientists" are people too, and they have their own beliefs and biases. Science is just as political a field as any other. There's no shortage of scientists who decide what they want to prove ahead of time, and there's no shortage of sound but unpoplar science "shouted down" for no other reason that it's unpopular.

        • Yeah!

          The world, and not only that, the whole universe, does Not just belong to the Scientists!
        • While you are correct, on a macroscale you have a "competing selfishness" syndrome. Person A is out to screw Person B badly enough to put their bigotry aside. Person A belongs to group 1 while Person B belongs to group 2 and they both have their own biases. The sum of their collective work gets de-biased by person C who has no bias. The information gets collected and eventually some semblance of truth emerges. This isn't always the case, but how would we ever know?
        • Certainly scientists have their own political biases, but a) if they let the politics override the evidence, they are by definition bad scientists, and b) there is no reason to assume that a scientific enquiry has a political motive; most science, believe it or not, stems from no political motivation whatsoever. The assertion that "scientists are (political) people too" is of course true, but it seems to me that it is most often used by those who find scientific discoveries politically unpalatable.
        • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @08:00PM (#10223942) Homepage
          Science is just as political a field as any other.

          Pfftt. While science does have politics, it is the least political field known to mankind. For every 'cuz I don't like your face' you encounter in the hard (real) sciences you find 20 such stans in the humanities and 400 in artistic endeavours. That is why so much more progress has been made in the hard sciences as compared to the soft social sciences.
          • Kidding? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by siskbc ( 598067 )
            Pfftt. While science does have politics, it is the least political field known to mankind. For every 'cuz I don't like your face' you encounter in the hard (real) sciences you find 20 such stans in the humanities and 400 in artistic endeavours. That is why so much more progress has been made in the hard sciences as compared to the soft social sciences.

            No seriously. I'm a scientist, and it's so ruthlessly political it's not funny. The idea sounds good - look at evidence, go where it takes you - and indee

            • Re:Kidding? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Alomex ( 148003 )
              No seriously. I'm a scientist, and it's so ruthlessly political it's not funny.

              No seriously, I am too, and as heavy as politics might look to you they are an entire order of magnitude less than in the social sciences and the arts.

              Your long list of examples shows there are some politics in science what you are missing is the reference measurement.
            • Grand parent misses the point by trying to minimize the harm subjectivity and bias do to science. It is little consolation that science is the least pollitical field; the fact that it has become so badly tainted by personal ego and politics at all is a profound indictment upon a field that should be the ultimate bastion for pure reason and the un-compromising search for truth.

              Grand parent's reply to parent merely showcases the arrogance and condescending attitudes that prevail among the scientific communi
        • by Anonymous Coward

          There's no shortage of scientists who decide what they want to prove ahead of time

          Are you saying that a scientists can have a hypothesis? Sue him!

        • Actually, the true scientific method (formalised and discussed by philosophers such as Hume and Popper) that is carried out by good scientists is the opposite of this: They will form a conjecture (or hypothesis), and then they will design their experiments to attempt to disprove their conjecture, rather than prove it.
        • Karl Popper [wikipedia.org] had an interesting take on this. I read a book once called Conjectures and Refutations [routledge.com] where Popper argues that a true scientists begins with a conjecture which explains some unknown process or phenomenon. For this conjecture to possess any value, it must be capable of producing falsifiable predictions. Thus, he dismissed characters such as Freud and Marx.

          In this article, the conjecture made indeed makes very risky conjectures. If humans from polynesia, melonesia, or micronesia reached North

      • What you say might be true. But, science doesn't live in a vacuum. Setting aside the idea of shading results for political reasons (sadly it happens), the decision of what to study and when is often motivated in part by political considerations. That can have effects just as strong.

        Example: The decision to put a major effort into developing the hydrogen bomb as a follow on to the already devastatingly destructive fission bomb. The result that it worked was an indisputable scientific fact regardless of poli
      • ***Science doesn't start with a conclusion and work backwards (except "creation science"). You gather evidence and try to draw conclusions, and they are often unpopular.***

        haha.. yeah. that's what SCIENCE IS ALL ABOUT, but that is often quite far from what happens in the real world.

        In a lot of cases like these you just make up a theory from thin air and then look for proof to support that, and end up with a lot of silly stuff like "egyptions sailed to america" and whatnot.

        *** (except "creation science")*
    • The claim will be extremely unwelcome to today's native Americans who came overland from Siberia and say they were there first.
      I don't see how. Sure, they may not have been first, but in order to get where they are now they had to kick the asses of the people who were first.

      Could somebody clarify how DNA will help? From what I've heard, there's at least as much variation between people of the same race as between races.
      • No, kicking their asses and taking their land, while enslaving the survivors is the trademark European style, copied from the Arabs (who still practice it to the letter). It's entirely possible that the early Americans merged peacefully with the other tribe. Without competition, tribes can cooperate, especially if faced with an unfamiliar environment in which neither is likely to survive, but have complementary survival skills. Tracing the descent of markers in DNA extracted from the new tissue to that extr
    • The main effect is to slow down either supporting or falsifying the ideas about earlier human groups in the western hemisphere

      You mean the U.S. hemisphere, right ? I had this very impression while in the US and Alaska, about groups who try to pull archeologists findings their way. Surprisingly I've never noticed that in Europe. For instance France has been invaded so many times (Franks, Huns, Vandals, Goths, Romans, Germans, Vikings and many more before that...) that one human group more or less really doe

  • we should change the National Anthem [infoplease.com] to Waltzing Matlida [anu.edu.au]?
    • Wrong song... (Score:3, Informative)

      by ReKleSS ( 749007 )
      Although a song about a sheep=thieving hobo that commits suicide may seem to be appropriate, it's not the Australian national anthem. The correct national anthem is "Advance Australia Fair"... but it's nowhere near as interesting.
      -ReK
  • Suddenly... (Score:4, Funny)

    by GOD_ALMIGHTY ( 17678 ) <curt.johnson@ g m a i l.com> on Saturday September 11, 2004 @05:10PM (#10222902) Homepage
    the Outback restaurant at the Indian casino makes sense. G'Day Kemosabe!
    (Advance apologies to the cultures I just insulted)
  • by Sevn ( 12012 )
    I predict a rise in teenage crocodile wrestling accidents once this news gets heavy rotation.
  • American aborigines (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lmenke ( 533846 )
    Lets finally establish proof that the first Americans were not the Clovis peoples and that they may not be Siberian Asians. End this tyranny of tribal political favoritism such as that which is preventing research on Kennewick man and other anthropological finds. An elementary statistical analysis (binomial statistics) will show that with the average tribe lasting say 100 years (disease, genocide, slavery, warfare, etc. being their demise) the statistical chance that any tribe can lay claim to 9,000 year
    • Furthermore, whether or not there were already weird black guys with boomerangs when the ancestors of the current Native Americans arrived is completely irrelevant to the history of european conquest of native american tribes. It was still mean, genocidal, and all those other things that W would go to war over if it happened today.

      These findings don't take away from the last 500 years of history in the Americas the same way finding the Viking villages didn't take away from Columbus's idiocy (or greatness)

      • Only the Texas tribes would get invaded by Bush for those mean, genocidal or other buzzword-compliant calls to arms, because they'd need their oil to be "protected", which lets out the subsaharan Sudanese, and other peoples being cleared from their minable land. Oh, wait, Bush and his buddies *already* invaded Texas, and they protected all the oil up into smoke in the 20th Century.
    • by ynotds ( 318243 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @09:23PM (#10224323) Homepage Journal
      When explorations of the lands that were exposed during the last ice age begin we will discover new peoples and civilizations.
      Archaeology is in a state of understandable denial about the importance of looking for evidence on the drowned margins of land masses, in a large part for the same reason that we have allowed marine ecosystems to become so much more degraded by our economic imperatives ... because we do not so easily see what lies beneath the sea.

      There is an accompanying problem that coastal wave action will have mangled most of the evidence of human expansion in the period when sea levels were rising after the peak of the last glaciation. But in the fullness of time we should at least be able to produce an accurate history of sea level change over that period and usably model related costal storm dynamics so as to narrow in on the most promising candidate submarine sites.

      We need to clear our mind of what we know of our modern world in order to see that in very many circumstances through prehistory, a primitive boat would have been the most productive means of expanding into new territory. By comparison, travelling overland in the wild tropics is a particularly tortuous process. So it becomes unsurprising that those cultures which saw the seas as their highways would have spread further and faster.
      This human journey is our greatest story.
      We are still one species, so all those stories should be seen as parts of our story, not as something to be appropriated by a particular subculture. And we will only start to really appreciate the wealth of human prehistory when we let go of our speciest blinders and learn to respect and admire the different achievements of other critters with whom we share this ball of rock.
  • That means the possibility of a Jurassic Park program with extinct lineages of people.
    Riding mammoths, harrassing the brontosauri, and munching fried trilobites...
  • Anyone got any other (non-cranky geocities-type website) sources? the BAAS website (www.brit-assoc.org.uk) seems to be down.
  • A word of caution.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by InternationalCow ( 681980 ) <mauricevansteensel&mac,com> on Saturday September 11, 2004 @05:56PM (#10223262) Journal
    to all who think that DNA sequencing is going to solve the debate:
    1. The DNA had to be extracted from bone. This is difficult, the DNA may be fragmented leading to incomplete or dubious sequences.
    2. One way to look at population genetics is to look at mitochondrial DNA, which is transmitted maternally. All assumptions on dating changes in that DNA depend on assumptions about mutation rates which are increasingly turning out to be incorrect.
    3. Another way to do it is to look at repetitive sequences in DNA. Here, the amount of change between population groups is used as a timer for divergence. Turns out that repetitive DNA attracts mutations, again screwing up timing estimates.
    Add to this a nice mixture of ethnic pride, scientific pride and plain old human thickheadedness and we have ourselves a nice new long debate that isn't going to be solved anytime soon. Still, I like the idea. It's provocative and might actually help (in the long run) to rid the debate of who was there first of unconstructive emotions.
  • Shouldn't it be the Aborigines or their predecessors? "Australians" only came into the picture in 1901 wth the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia.
  • But at least this now explains why the US is being run by a gang of criminals.
  • Native americans had not discovered the process of brewing beer.
  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:18AM (#10243770)

    I'm no [insert anything here]ogist, but something tells me no society had boats capable of open ocean travel 12000 years ago.

    It's also been claimed that Chinese or Japanese seafarers settled all over the pacific coast between California and Chile between 1500 and 1000 years ago, which from a technology standopint is far more believeable. There is evidence to suggest that these people sailed all the way around South America and back northward, reaching most of the Brazilian coastline (to map the movements of the stars, no less, proving that the Earth revolved around the sun).

  • So if I have relatives in Australia, does it mean that my family must come from Australia? I mean, it could be that the Australians come from my home country, or that we both come from some third place. It's possible (and probably simpler to assume) that these tribes came from Eurasia and then colonized Japan (the Ainu have long been recognized as relatives of the Australian aborigines), then migrated south into Australia, and finally East to North America. Presumably, these people must have once b

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