India's gift to Australia: The dingo?

(File photo) Archaeological records suggest the Indian migrants may have brought dingoes.

Story highlights

  • People from India arrived in Australia about 4,000 years ago, a genetic study says
  • That means they arrived long before European begun settling the continent
  • The research challenges the view that Australia was isolated for nearly 40,000 years
  • The Indians may have brought dingoes and new tool techniques to Australia

Long before Europeans began settling in Australia, people from India arrived on the continent and interbred with the aboriginal population there, a new study says.

The Indians may also have introduced dingoes to the vast Australian landmass, it suggests.

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The genetic scientists behind the study are challenging the conventional view that the humans who first arrived in Australia at least 40,000 year ago remained essentially cut off from outsiders until European mariners showed up in the 17th century.

In an article published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the team of researchers says an analysis of the genetic history of Australian Aborigines and other peoples indicates the contact with Indians took place roughly 4,000 years ago.

That period coincides with the arrival of the dingo in Australia, according to archaeological records, suggesting the Indian migrants may have brought the wild dog with them, the genetic study says.

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The Indians could also have prompted changes around that time in the Australian inhabitants' tool technology and food processing, according to the scientists, who work at German and Dutch research institutes.

They based their findings on large study of genetic data from aboriginal Australians, New Guineans, island Southeast Asians and Indians.

Their analysis supported the theory that indigenous groups in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines are descendants of a wave of migration out of Africa tens of thousands of years ago.

But it also showed what the scientists called "substantial gene flow" between the Indian and Australian populations "well before European contact."

They estimated that the Indian-Australian interaction took place 4,230 during the Holocene, the current geological period.