CREDIT: Francois Ricaut
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
30 Indonesian Women (Accidentally) Founded Madagascar
A couple of remarkable observations may be made here. The first is that this island was unoccupied until 1200 years ago. The same can be said of a large number of the larger islands around the world and it is worth noting. The inconvenience of settling must have discouraged closer populations on the mainlands for some reason that is not obvious. I also need to grant that such occupation was only a viable prospect during the past several thousands of years and easily during the Bronze Age, yet the shipping fraternity then saw no reason to colonize. Suddenly a thousand or so years ago it became easier and more common.
It this is true or not is surely worth investigating.
The second observation was that an Indonesian expedition found its way deep into southerly waters and surely lost the capacity to return, likely because the vessel was simply failing. On the other hand they surely picked in folks on the
and then landed on the uninhabited Island,
most likely to avoid contact of any kind with the Africans. It certainly worked.
The question begged is why were Africans unable to access this island? It was close enough to sail in a day and a night with a few islands acting as stepping stones as well. Wherever seamen existed, such trips were attempted. As well, Arab trading was an equal distance just up the coast. In fact
surely figures in the ancient
tales of Sinbad the Sailor. Madagascar
Why was there a general lack of colonizing enthusiasm almost world wide?
30 Indonesian Women (Accidentally) Founded
Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 20 March 2012 Time: 08:34 PM ET
Women, like this one from
played a major role in founding . Madagascar
CREDIT: Francois Ricaut
The land of freaky animals and amazing biodiversity,
also one of the last places to be settled by humans. And new research suggests
that didn't happen until about 1,200 years ago. Madagascar
The colonization might even have been an accident, the researchers say. A small group of Indonesian women settled the island in one fell swoop, possibly making their way there after their trading vessel capsized.
"The unusual thing about this island is Madagascar is a long way away from
… It was also settled very recently; by this time, most of the world had
already been settled," study researcher Indonesia Murray
Cox, of Massey University
told LiveScience. "We are talking about an entire culture being
trans-located across the New Zealand Indian Ocean." [The
World's Biggest Oceans and Seas]
Previous genetic research showed that, surprisingly, instead of coming from Africa, the people living on the island off the east coast of Africa seem to have come from Indonesia, another island nation a quarter of the world, or some 3,500 miles (about 5,600 kilometers), away.
"What we haven't known is exactly how that happened. When did those people arrive and how did they arrive?" Cox said.
To find out, Cox and his colleagues analyzed genes from the mitochondria of 300 native Madagascans and 3,000 Indonesians. Mitochondria are the cell's energy factories, but they are special because their genes are inherited only from our mothers.
These genes showed a clear similarity between the Indonesian and
genomes. To find out how long ago and how many Indonesian settlers there when
the island's population was founded, the team ran various computer simulations
that started out with different founding populations at different times until
the results matched their real-life data. The researchers found that the island
was most likely settled by a small population of about 30 women, who arrived in
around 1,200 years ago. Ninety-three percent (28) of these women were
Indonesian, and the other 7 percent (two individuals) were African. Madagascar
Almost all native Madagascans are related to these 30 women, they found.
What about the men?
Previous research on Madagascans, specifically on the Y sex chromosome (passed from father to son), indicates that the males of this founding population were also from
though they don't know how many there were.
"You see there are Indonesian Y chromosomes in the population," Cox said. "We know that both Madagascan men and women come from
we just don't know exactly how many men. Our evidence suggests it's also a
small number." Indonesia
Archaeological evidence suggests that these few settlers quickly set down roots: "You have this rise and spread very rapidly to take over the island," Cox said, "perhaps in the matter of a few generations." [Gallery: Images of Uncontacted Tribes]
So, how did they get there? The researchers aren't sure. The fact that there were only 30 women, and likely no more than that of men, means it probably wasn't intentional, Cox said. He suggests that a shipping vessel, which can hold up to 500 people, could have capsized, and its travelers could have ended up on the shores of the African island.
"I wouldn't say we were sure it was an accidental voyage, but the new evidence suggests this is a good idea," Cox said.
Major ocean currents also could have pushed shipwreck survivors toward the island. During World War II, wreckage from bombings in
Japan floated all the way to Africa, landing on
"There was even a person in a lifeboat that made it across," Cox said.
The study will be published tomorrow (March 21) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.