A genetic research paper published today in Science is the latest research result using the DNA database collated by the late Professor Sir David Weatherall and colleagues. This latest finding uses genome-wide analysis of ancient DNA samples, and compares it to modern samples held in the Weatherall Collection. The findings offer insights into the ancestry and culture of remote Pacific Islands.
‘If David were still alive he’d be delighted with this latest set of findings’ says Dr Kathryn Robson from the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular, an author on the paper.
Co-led by researchers at Harvard University, the University of Vienna and Rosalind Hunter-Anderson, an independent researcher working in Albuquerque New Mexico, the new paper offers fresh insights into the ancestry and culture of the world’s earliest seafarers, including family structure, social customs, and the ancestral populations of the people living in many islands today. As part of their work, the researchers consulted with Indigenous communities in Micronesia and their paper reflects this feedback such as introducing a new terminology based on the Indigenous CHamoru language for the archaeological periods.
“It’s an unexpected gift to be able to learn about cultural patterns from genetic data,” said David Reich, a professor in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology and a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, who led the study.
Read the full paper in Science.