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RE: The First Australians
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A 16th century maritime map in a Los Angeles library vault proves that Portuguese adventurers, not British or Dutch, were the first Europeans to discover Australia, says a new book which details the secret discovery of Australia.
The book "Beyond Capricorn" says the map, which accurately marks geographical sites along Australia's east coast in Portuguese, proves that Portuguese seafarer Christopher de Mendonca lead a fleet of four ships into Botany Bay in 1522 - almost 250 years before Britain's Captain James Cook.

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The discovery of Australia
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In ancient times it was assumed that the world was flat but once the fact of its roundness was accepted old theories were revived that there must be a great southern continent on its underside to balance the land mass of the northern hemisphere and labelled on maps Terra Australis Incognita.

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The First Australians
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The uniqueness of Australian Aboriginal people and their long association with the continent has been revealed in a landmark genetic study.

Researchers analysed the DNA of more than 120 Aboriginal people and compared it with the DNA of indigenous people in the region, including Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and the Andaman Islands off the coast of India.
A Sydney scientist, Sheila van Holst Pellekaan, said her team found the Aboriginal people could be grouped into five genetic haplogroups, or super families, that were very distinct from their regional neighbours.

"Australian super families are unique. This confirms they have been here a very long time" - Dr van Holst Pellekaan, formerly of the University of Sydney and now at the University of NSW.

The researchers calculated that Aboriginal people were spread widely across the continent by at least 40,000 years ago. This fits with archaeological evidence that the first people arrived here between 45,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Identification of one of the Aboriginal haplogroups also supported a genetic study last year that concluded a group of modern humans who left Africa more than 65,000 years ago and eventually populated the globe were beachcombers, moving very rapidly around the coast of India and down to Australia, long before Europe was colonised.
However, the presence of the other four haplogroups could indicate a different dispersal history for these people's ancestors.
Her team studied DNA in the mitochondria, or energy producing parts of the cell, which is inherited maternally. The amount of variation in the mitochondrial DNA sequence between different groups reflects the amount of time since they diverged from each other.
Wiimpatja people from the Darling River area of western NSW and Walbiri people from Yuendumu in central Australia were the main participants in the study, which is published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
The most ancient lineages, two super families dubbed A and B, were widespread across Australia. People living in western NSW and the north of the country belonged to super family C, while people in central Australia belonged to the D and E groups.
As expected, very ancient connections with people in India, South-East Asia and PNG were evident in the DNA of the Aboriginal people.
The C and E groups, for example, shared a genetic similarity with a super family in PNG known as P.
This was probably because they had all descended from one original population that moved into both countries long ago.
The study also supported research published last year suggesting a super family known as Q had evolved in PNG in isolation from Australia.

"On current evidence, genetic exchange across the Torres Strait subsequent to initial colonisation appears to have been surprisingly limited" - Dr van Holst Pellekaan.

It found no evidence for a recent scientific claim that Indian people had migrated to Australia about 10,000 years ago.
The forced relocation of Aboriginal people by European colonists had complicated this kind of research in Australia, because people were not always aware of their traditional affiliations.
Participants in the study could learn valuable information about their maternal history, but it was only an adjunct to their oral and written histories.

"I have to be careful to explain it's another bit of information. It's not your full story"- Dr van Holst Pellekaan.

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