Author(s): Thorsby, E.
Journal: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Available evidence strongly suggests that the first to settle on Rapa Nui were Polynesians arriving from the west around AD 1200–1253. There are, however, also signs of an early contact between Rapa Nui and South America, but genetic evidence of an early contribution of Native Americans to the peopling of Rapa Nui has until recently been lacking. In this review our own genetic studies of blood-derived DNA collected on Rapa Nui since 1971 are summarized. For the first time human molecular genetic data are obtained which strongly suggest that some Native Americans arrived early at Rapa Nui, probably as early as AD 1280–1495. Whether they sailed directly from South America to Rapa Nui on their own rafts or whether they came with Polynesians returning from visits to South America cannot be established by our studies, but the latter possibility may be the most likely given other evidence of early visits by Polynesians to South America. In any case, our data suggest that some Native Americans arrived Rapa Nui not long after its first settlement by Polynesians, but long before the island was discovered by Europeans in 1722. Native Americans may therefore have had an influence on the early human colonization of Rapa Nui and thus on its ecology.
Source Link: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fevo.2016.00118/full
Peoples: Polynesians and South Americans | Places: Rapa Nui | Topics: Easter Island and Native Americans | DNA Type: - and Ancient DNA