Document Type



This study utilizes newly developed direct DNA typing methods for human leukocyte antigens (HLA) to provide new information about the peopling of New Guinea. The complete polymorphism of eight Melanesian populations was examined. The groups included were highlanders, northern and southern highlands fringe populations, a Sepik population, northern and southern coastal New Guinea populations, and populations from the Bismarck Archipelago and New Caledonia. The study concluded that, based on HLA and other evidence, Melanesians are likely to have evolved largely from the same ancestral stock as Aboriginal Australians but to have since differentiated. Highlanders are likely to be descendants of earlier migrations who have been isolated for a long period of time. Northern highlands fringe and Sepik populations are likely to share a closer common ancestry but to have differentiated due to long term isolation and the relative proximity to the coast of the Sepik. Southern fringe populations are likely to have a different origin, possibly from the Gulf region, although there may be some admixture with neighboring groups. Coastal populations have a wider range of polymorphisms because of the genetic trail left by later population movement along the coast from Asia that did not reach Australia or remote Oceania. Other polymorphisms found in these populations may have been introduced by the movement of Austronesian-speaking and other more recent groups of people into the Pacific, because they share many polymorphisms with contemporary southeast Asians, Polynesians, and Micronesians that are not found in highlanders or Aboriginal Australians. There is evidence suggestive of later migration to Melanesia from Polynesia and Micronesia.