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The first large-scale genetic study of people in Papua New Guinea has shown that different groups within the country are genetically highly different from each other. Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, University of Oxford and the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research reveal that the people there have remained genetically independent from Europe and Asia for most of the last 50,000 years, and that people from the country’s isolated highlands region have been completely independent even until the present day. The study, published in Science, also gives insights into how the development of agriculture and cultural events such as the Bronze or Iron Age could affect the genetic structure of human societies. The study used DNA samples collected by Prof John Clegg and Prof Sir David Weatherall in the 1980s, a collection housed at the WIMM.

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