FUZHOU, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- An analysis of sequenced genomes of ancient East Asians and present-day groups showed strong genetic links between ancient Taiwan groups and Tai-Kadai speakers in the Chinese mainland's southern areas and Hainan Island.
The finding was published in the journal Nature on Tuesday. A group of international researchers reported genome-wide data from 166 East Asians dating back 8,000 to 1,000 years from sites across the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, Mongolia, Russia, and Japan, and from 383 samples of 46 present-day groups from the Chinese mainland and Nepal.
They found people from Taiwan 3,300 to 1,200 years ago derived about 75 percent ancestry from a lineage also common in modern Austronesian and Tai-Kadai speakers, suggesting Austronesians, including modern indigenous Taiwan groups, share the same ancestry with Tai-Kadai people in the mainland's southern areas and Hainan Island.
Wang Chuanchao, an anthropologist at Xiamen University and co-author of the article, said they extracted and sequenced DNA of 46 individuals from two Iron Age sites in Taiwan, adding that it is also the first DNA study of ancient people in Taiwan.
The study shows ancient Taiwan people also derived about 25 percent ancestry from a northern lineage related to but different from Yellow River farmers.
"It explains why foxtail millet, which was domesticated in the northern part of the Chinese mainland, appeared relatively early in the Taiwan Neolithic Tapenkeng culture," Wang said.
Wang noted this provides direct evidence that Austronesian speakers, who live across a wide swath of islands in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific, originated on the Chinese mainland.
Austronesian refers to a family of languages spoken in the area extending from Madagascar eastward through the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago to Hawaii and Easter Island and including almost all the native languages of the Pacific islands.
The article was co-authored by 85 researchers from 43 institutions across the world including Xiamen University, Harvard University and Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Enditem