Inferring prehistory from genetic, linguistic, and geographic variation

Hunley, K., Dunn, M., Lindström, E., Reesink, G., Terrill, A., Norton, H., Scheinfeldt, L., Friedlaender, F. R., Merriwether, D. A., Koki, G., & Friedlaender, J. S. (2007). Inferring prehistory from genetic, linguistic, and geographic variation. In J. S. Friedlaender (Ed.), Genes, language, & culture history in the Southwest Pacific (pp. 141-154). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This chapter investigates the fit of genetic, phenotypic, and linguistic data to two well-known models of population history. The first of these models, termed the population fissions model, emphasizes population splitting, isolation, and independent evolution. It predicts that genetic and linguistic data will be perfectly tree-like. The second model, termed isolation by distance, emphasizes genetic exchange among geographically proximate populations. It predicts a monotonic decline in genetic similarity with increasing geographic distance. While these models are overly simplistic, deviations from them were expected to provide important insights into the population history of northern Island Melanesia. The chapter finds scant support for either model because the prehistory of the region has been so complex. Nonetheless, the genetic and linguistic data are consistent with an early radiation of proto-Papuan speakers into the region followed by a much later migration of Austronesian speaking peoples. While these groups subsequently experienced substantial genetic and cultural exchange, this exchange has been insufficient to erase this history of separate migrations.
Publication type
Book chapter
Publication date

Share this page