CLAIMS that indigenous Australians and Papua New Guineans are the most ancient continuous civilisations on Earth have been backed by the first extensive study of their DNA, which dates their origins to more than 50,000 years ago.
Scientists were able to trace the remarkable journey made by intrepid ancient humans by sifting through clues left in the DNA of modern populations in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
The analysis shows that their ancestors were probably the first humans to cross an ocean, and reveals evidence of prehistoric liaisons with an unknown hominin cousin.
Prof Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary geneticist who led the work at the University of Copenhagen, said: “This story has been missing for a long time in science. Now we know their relatives are the guys who were the first real human explorers.