Reconstructing Social Prehistory from Genomic Data in the Indo-Pacific Region
Cox, Murray Paul
Reconstructing the evolutionary history of our species has traditionally been the purview of archeology and linguistics, but is now increasingly influenced by genetics. However, the information held in our DNA cannot be read like a book, but must instead be extracted using population genetic theory, advanced statistical methods and computational tools that can handle large genome-scale datasets. In this series of published studies, these approaches have been applied to reconstruct human prehistory, with a special focus on the social features of past communities in the Indo-Pacific region. They reveal that marriage between Asian women and Melanesian men was favored during the spread of farming populations in the Neolithic period, that Madagascar was settled by a small number of Indonesian families with close female relatives, and that extremely complex marriage rules continue to define and structure small traditional communities in the Indo-Pacific region even today. These studies are largely unique in moving beyond a traditional emphasis in molecular anthropology of identifying and dating human migrations to instead reveal key aspects of the social rules by which those communities lived.
Degree Name: Doctor of Science
Degree Discipline: Biochemistry
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Molecular Anthropology; Population Genetics; Computational Biology; Modelling
Research Type: Thesis