09 April 2008 ~ 0 Comments

The first human migrant?

Interesting research, maybe biased as well – posted here. I assume they mean purposeful migration over long distance. I wonder what the ‘Aryan invasion’ myth believers think about this. Even with the evident bias in the conclusion, one cannot deny that we are all migrants as exemplified in this study and to ‘police’ that to the point that we do today, is simply ludicrous. Anyway, the Indian diaspora seems to have spread the world over, and if the results of this study are somewhat true, prior to the effects of British colonialism.

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The first human migrant ever could have been an Indian and that, too, from Madurai – that is, if research by a professor from the Madurai University is to be believed.

A billion to 400 million years ago, the Big Drift occurred when the single landmass on the planet broke apart to form what we today call continents. Fifty-seventy thousand years ago the first human made his way out to colonise Eurasia, from the cradle of human civilisation Africa, through the coastal region via the land bridge at a time when the sea levels were low; this human is believed to represent the species that first migrated out of Africa.

And if Professor R M Pitchappan from Madurai University is to be believed, Indians perhaps were the first ever migrants out of Africa.

“Gene M130 is a marker for the first human migration out of Africa, that took place in India 70,000 years ago. We have found this in the DNA of members of a community in a village near Madurai,” says R M Pitchappan of Madurai Kamraj University. “There is no other marker older than M130 in India. This way we have been able to identify the first human settlers in India, who obviously came out of Africa. Because all later migrations do not have his marker, it is evident that they were the first ‘Indians,’” he said.

His findings are being presented on Discovery Channel’s new six-part series The Story of India starting April 16, he added.

Gene mutations are key to tracing human history because with the help of mutations that has built up on the one surviving copy, geneticists can arrange people in lineages and estimate the time of origin of each lineage.

Gene M130, the defining gene marker that the professor speaks of has living proof in the form of a man called Vidumurai, who claims to be a descendant of the first human migrant.

“This discovery has completely come as a surprise. I am happy to know that I am the descendant of the first human migrant into India,” said Vidumurai to the press on Thursday (April 3).

But this doesn’t seem to be the Eureka moment in the scientific circles.

“If anybody finds a tribe that is 70,000 years old, it is not surprising. It is already well established from our studies that there are not only tribes from Andabar and Nicobar islands but also several other such tribes,” said Dr Lalji Singh, a reputed molecular biologist who is currently Director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), located in Hyderabad.

Pitchappan said it is believed that the entire human race is essentially African – “brothers and sisters separated by 2,000 generations” – but if proved that Indians were the first human migrants then it will add a defining chapter to our 120,000-year-old evolutionary history. The recent findings serve as strong evidence that the rest of the world may have been populated from India. There is already a growing view among geneticists that South Asians populated the rest of world.

Central Asia is said to be the most important reservoir of genetic diversity, and the source of at least three major waves of migration leading into Europe, the Americas and India.

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