via PNAS, 30 March 2021: A landmark paper by Larena et al. is a fine-grained genomic study of the Philippine population, suggesting that there were at least five waves of migration into the Philippines in the past, and that population in the Cordilleras had diverged from the peoples in Taiwan much earlier than the arrival of rice agriculture. This challenges some of the assumptions of the “Out of Taiwan” model where population, languages and rice agrculture spread as a package.
Island Southeast Asia has recently produced several surprises regarding human history, but the region’s complex demography remains poorly understood. Here, we report ∼2.3 million genotypes from 1,028 individuals representing 115 indigenous Philippine populations and genome-sequence data from two ∼8,000-y-old individuals from Liangdao in the Taiwan Strait. We show that the Philippine islands were populated by at least five waves of human migration: initially by Northern and Southern Negritos (distantly related to Australian and Papuan groups), followed by Manobo, Sama, Papuan, and Cordilleran-related populations. The ancestors of Cordillerans diverged from indigenous peoples of Taiwan at least ∼8,000 y ago, prior to the arrival of paddy field rice agriculture in the Philippines ∼2,500 y ago, where some of their descendants remain to be the least admixed East Asian groups carrying an ancestry shared by all Austronesian-speaking populations. These observations contradict an exclusive “out-of-Taiwan” model of farming–language–people dispersal within the last four millennia for the Philippines and Island Southeast Asia. Sama-related ethnic groups of southwestern Philippines additionally experienced some minimal South Asian gene flow starting ∼1,000 y ago. Lastly, only a few lowlanders, accounting for <1% of all individuals, presented a low level of West Eurasian admixture, indicating a limited genetic legacy of Spanish colonization in the Philippines. Altogether, our findings reveal a multilayered history of the Philippines, which served as a crucial gateway for the movement of people that ultimately changed the genetic landscape of the Asia-Pacific region.
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