COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The indigenous people of Australia are the oldest existing human civilization on Earth, a new DNA study has found.
In what is the most comprehensive study of the people commonly known as aborigines, researchers found a direct line going back more than 50,000 years. The new study, published in the latest edition of Nature, sheds new light on the human species.
DNA gave researchers the ability to follow ancient human lines and conclude the ancestors of aborigines were likely the first to cross an ocean and perhaps even interbreed with other hominin tribes.
"This story has been missing for a long time in science," said Eske Willerslev at the University of Copenhagen, who led the study. "Now we know their relatives are the guys who were the first real human explorers. Our ancestors were sitting being kind of scared of the world while they set out on this exceptional journey across Asia and across the sea."
Studying 83 indigenous Australians and 25 Papuans, Willerslev and his team found that after aborigines arrived in Australia, they remained an isolated group until about 4,000 years ago.
"They are probably the oldest group in the world that you can link to one particular place," he said.