You are on page 1of 14

Article Review

Did Austro-Asiatic speakers originate in

China/ Southeast Asia and then migrate to
India with Rice Agriculture
By P. Priyadarshi

A critical appreciation/review of
“Population Genetic Structure in Indian Austroasiatic Speakers: The Role of
Landscape Barriers and Sex-Specific Admixture,
Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Mait Metspalu, Ying Choi, Reedik Magi, Irene Gallego Romero, Pedro Soares, Mannis
van Oven, Doron M. Behar, Siiri Rootsi, Georgi Hudjashov, Chandana Basu Mallick, Monika Karmin, Mari Nelis,
Ju¨ri Parik, Alla Goverdhana Reddy, Ene Metspalu, George van Driem, Yali Xue, Chris Tyler-Smith, Kumarasamy
Thangaraj, Lalji Singh, Maido Remm, Martin B. Richards, Marta Mirazon Lahr, Manfred Kayser, Richard Villems,
and Toomas Kivisild, Mol. Biol. Evol. 28(2):1013–1024. 2011 doi:10.1093/molbev/msq288”

When HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium published results of its very large
study of autosomal SNPs involving 73 populations living in ten Asian
countries, it became clear that it had sorted out the question of human
migration in the east. 1 They found that East Asian populations originated from
Southeast Asia, and that Myanmar, Borneo, Thailand and Cambodia were
important as a source of human population to China. It further clarified that
Southeast Asian population had in turn originated from India. Five percent of
East Asian population had originated from India directly, implying an exit out
of India from Tibet-Burma side directly into China. They also noted overlap
of DNA migrations and language. From the conclusions of this study, it
became evident without saying that the Austro-Asiatic, Daic and
Austronesian speakers of Southeast Asia had originated genetically, if not
linguistically, from India and that the claim of their origin from China was

The results of HUGO reversed the route of human migration proposed by

linguists like Blust, and promoted by archaeologists like Bellwood and
Higham, which had suggested that language and farming migration took place
from China to Southeast Asia to India and Polynesia/Micronesia. This
imagination was contradicted by a large number of other DNA studies other

The HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium, Mapping Human Genetic Diversity in Asia,
Science 2009, 326(5959): 1514-1545.

than HUGO’s. Yet Bellwood and Higham pervaded over the authors of the
study done by Chaubey et al.

This China hypothesis had stated that farming reached Taiwan from China,
and then there was a Taiwanese population expansion leading to
Austronesian expansion, which led to founder populations settling in
Indonesia, Malagasy and Pacific Islands. This theory too got discredited by
DNA studies soon. Without verifying the validity of Bellwood Hypothesis,
many authors (working with human DNA) believed words of Bellwood. For
example, Hill et al (2006) write, “Both Austroasiatic and Austronesian
languages had their origins in South China and were introduced to Southeast
Asia during the middle Holocene with the Neolithic expansion of farmers of
Mongoloid physical type. Austroasiatic took a mainland route southwards,
whereas Austronesian expanded along the island arc from Taiwan to the
Philippines, and then Indonesia and Malaysia.” 2 Identifying a particular body
type (Mongoloid in this case) with such historical events was outright racism,
which has not been supported by any DNA studies.

In spite of systematic DNA studies (autosomal, mitochondrial as well as Y-

chromosomal) proving India as a source of human population to Southeast
Asia, Tibet and China, the general belief persisted that India contributed
humans to the Southeast yet it did not contribute any cultural element like
farming and language to the Southeast Asia.

This is the symmetrical eastern counterpart of beliefs of most of the scholars

in genomics that although it was from India that Central Asia and West Asia
had been populated, yet India did not contribute any culture or language to
those people, rather received all of her languages from outside India.
Although generally believed by one and all, this opinion does not seem to be
sound given the recent realization that human language is very old, and those
who arrived into India sometime between 100,000 years back to 60,000 years
back from East Africa, certainly spoke some language.

The monogenic theory of linguistics, 3 which is not yet widely accepted and
known, is consistent with monogenic DNA based theory of origin of Homo
sapiens sapiens, and should have long back replaced the main-stream racist
linguistics which believes multiple origins of languages in different isolated

Hill, C. et al, Phylogeography and Ethnogenesis of Aboriginal Southeast Asians, Mol Biol
Evol 2006, 23(12): 2480-2491.
Bengston, J. D. and Ruhlen, M., “Global Etymologies”, in On the Origin of Languages: Studies
in Linguistic Taxonomy, Stanford University Press, Stanford. Pp. 277-336.

Present work of Chaubey et al is a robust effort to prop up the polygenic

origin belief. The study tries to link people with a particular language and
culture to a particular genetic ancestry, in a way to create a ‘sub-race’
(identifiable by O2a-M95) of Mongoloid race (usually identified by Y-
chromosomal haplogroup O) out of the tribal people of India. In this sense the
article is racist in approach. However, it has been proved in genomics that
races never existed. The research article by Chaubey et al is a good attempt
at deciphering human civilizational prehistory and migration, yet there are
serious issues which need to be taken into account before ascribing any
validity to the conclusions derived in the study.

At the very outset the discussion opens with a premise: “The hypothesis that
the spread of the Austroasiatic language family can be traced back to rice
cultivators of Southeast Asia (Higham 20034; Bellwood 20055) is contested,
but some relationship between early Austroasiatics and rice agriculture is a
view that remains prevalent among linguists.” (p. 1014). The authors’
inclination to this hypothesis is clear in the quote, although the expressed
intention is to verify this hypothesis.

They summarize the Bellwood hypothesis thus: “Indian Munda-speaking and

speaking hunter-gatherer populations, who regardless of their current
lifestyle, share rice cultivation related cognates with Khasi-Aslian–speaking
populations of southeast Asia, as Neolithic immigrants in India, because
traditionally a single origin of rice cultivation in China has been assumed (fig.
1B).” This again is a misrepresentation of fact. Because most of these
‘cultivation related’ Munda-Khasi-Aslian cognates are also shared by Indo-
European languages not only from India, but from as far as Western Europe
(e.g. English words: to sow, plough, mill etc.).6

Thus, in Bellwood’s hypothesis, rice cultivation originated in China and then

went to Southeast Asia by 6000 BP, and from there went to India with
Austro-Asiatic speakers about 5000 years back or so. The Chinese rice
farming reached Taiwan, and it was from Taiwan that Austronesian languages

Higham, C., “Languages and farming dispersals: austroasiatic languages and rice
cultivation”, in Bellwood, P. and Renfrew, C., (Eds.), Examining the farming/language
dispersal hypothesis, The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge, p.
Bellwood, P. S., First farmers, Wiley-Blackwell, London, 2005.
Priyadarshi, P., The First Civilization of the World, Siddhartha Publications, New Delhi,
2011. -----, Recent Studies in Indian Archaeo-linguistics and Archaeo-genetics having bearing on Indian
Prehistory, Joint Annual Conference of Indian Archaeology Society, Indian Society for
Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies, Indian History and Culture Society, Lucknow, 30
December, 2010

reached Indonesia, Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia and Malagasy

within last 5,500 years. Before that these islands had been devoid of any
human population in Bellwood’s theory.

Unfortunately Chaubey et al (2011) relied entirely on the articles of these

three authors viz. Bellwood, Higham and Fuller for their information on
origins and migration of rice agriculture, although a rich literature based on
DNA studies of rice done by agriculture scientists existed, which contradict
all these three authors.

The authors would have spent their time more fruitfully if they had studied
works in DNA of rice, cattle, commensals and humans which have thoroughly
ruled out these possibilities. Before we proceed to critically examine the
article by Chaubey et al (2011), it is desirable to list the selected important
works which the authors have been oblivious to consult. We can just mention
only a few of those works here:

Human Migration Took Place from Southeast Asia to China and not the Vice
Versa during the Period Under Consideration:

(This rules out theory of Chinese migration into SEA with rice agriculture)

1. Bing Su et al, Y-Chromosome Evidence for a Northward Migration of

Modern Humans into Eastern Asia during the Last Ice Age, Am J Hum
Genet, 1999, 65:1718-1724.
2. Hong Shi et al, Y-Chromosome Evidence of Southern Origin of the East
Asian–Specific Haplogroup O3-M122, Am J Hum Genet, 2005, 77: 408-
3. The HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium, Mapping Human Genetic
Diversity in Asia, Science 2009, 326(5959): 1514-1545.

Studies Destroying Bellwood’s Taiwan Austronesian and rice-agriculture


1. Soares, P. et al, Climate Change and Postglacial Human Dispersals in

Southeast Asia, Molecular Biology and Evolution 2008, 25(6):1209-
2. Bing Su et al, Y-Chromosome Evidence for a Northward Migration of
Modern Humans into Eastern Asia during the Last Ice Age, Am J Hum
Genet 1999, 65:1718-1724.

3. Bing Su, Polynesian origins: Insight from the Y chromosome, PNAS

2000, 97 (15): 8225:8228.
4. Karafet, T. M. et al, Major East-West Division underlies Y Chromosome
Stratification across Indonesia, Mol Biol Evol 2010, online March 2010,
doi: 10.1093/molbev/msq063.
5. Mona, S. et al, Patterns of Y chromosome diversity intersect with the
trans-New Guinea Hypothesis, Mol Biol Evol 2007, 24(11):2546-2555.
6. Oppenheimer, S. J. and Richards, M., Polynesian origins. Slow boat to
Melanesia? Nature 2001, 410: 166-167.
7. HSU Mutsu and CHEN Shu-Juo, “A Homeland or Hostland? The power
and challenges of genetic studies on Austronesian’s expansion”, paper
read in conference, Challenges to interdisciplinary collaborative
research, 14 to 16 December, 2006, Institute of Ethnology, Acadmia
Sinica, Taipei
8. Capelli, C. et al, A predominantly indigenous paternal heritage for the
Austronesian speaking peoples of Insular Southeast Asia and Oceania,
Am J Hum Genet 2001, 68(2):432-443.
9. Hui Li et al, Paternal genetic affinity between western Austronesians
and Daic populations, BMC Evol Biol 2008, 8:146
10. Li, P. Jen-kuei, Some remarks on the DNA studies on Austronesian
origins, Language and Linguistics 2001, 2(1): 237-239.
11. Donohue, M. and Denham, T., Farming and Language in Island
Southeast Asia Reframing Austronesian History, Current Anthropol
2010, 51(2):223-256.

Autosomal DNA studies too point out that the Austro-Asiatic speakers
are autochthonous to India and the Southeast Asians originated from

1. The HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium, Mapping Human Genetic

Diversity in Asia, Science 2009, 326(5959): 1514-1545.
2. Kivisild, T. et al; “The genetic heritage of the earliest settlers
persists both in Indian tribal and caste populations”, in Am J Hum
Genet, 2003 Feb, 72 (2) : 313-32, p. 313
3. Kashyap, V. K. et al.; “Genetic structure of Indian populations
based on fifteen autosomal microsatellite loci”, in BMC Genet.
2006; 7: 28. doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-7-28.
4. Veerraju, P. et al; “Insertion / Deletion DNA Polymorphism in two
south Indian Tribal Populations”, in International Journal of
Human Genetics, 2001, 1(2): 129-132.

Rice Cultivation started independently in India ( O. sativa indica) and Southeast

Asia (O. sativa japonica)

1. Oka, H. and Morishima, H., “Wild and cultivated rice”, in Matsuo, T.,
Futsuhara, Y., Kikushi, F. and Yamaguchi, H. (eds), Science of the rice
plant, vol 3: Genetics, Nobunkyo, Tokyo, 1997, pp 88–111.
2. Glaszmann, J.C., Isozymes and classification of Asian rice varieties,
Theor Appl Genet 1987, 74:21–30.
3. Wang, Z.Y. and Tanksley, S.D., Restriction fragment length
polymorphism in Oryza sativa L., Genome 1989, 32:1113–1118.
4. Blair, M.W., Panaud, O. and McCouch, S.R., Inter-simple sequence
repeat (ISSR) amplification for analysis of microsatellite motif
frequency and fingerprinting in rice ( Oryza sativa L.), Theor Appl Genet
1999, 98:780–782.
5. Cheng, C. et al, Polyphyletic origin of cultivated rice: based on the
interspersion pattern of SINEs, Mol Biol Evol 2003, 20:67–75.
6. Vitte, C. et al, Genomic paleontology provides evidence for two distinct
origins of Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.), Mol Gen Genomics 2004,
7. Kovach, M. et al, New Insights into history of rice domestication,
Trends in Genetics 2007, 23(11): 278-287.
8. Yamane, Hiroko et al, Molecular and Evolutionary analysis of the Hd6
Photoperiod Sensitivity Gene Within Genus Oryza, Rice 2009, 2:56-66.
9. Hiroko, Y. et al, Molecular and Evolutionary analysis of the Hd6
Photoperiod Sensitivity Gene Within Genus Oryza, Rice 2009, 2:56-66.
10. Lonedo J. P. et al, Phylogenography of Asian wild rice, Oryza rufipogen,
reveals multiple independent domestications of cultivated rice oryza
sativa, PNAS 2006, 103, 9578-5983. Chen, et al, Distribution of
deletion type in CpDNA of cultivated and wild rice, in Japanese Journal
of Genetics 2003, 68: 597-603.
11. Harris, David, “The Multi-disciplinary Study of Agricultural Origins:
‘One World Archeology’ in Practice”, in The Future for Archeology,
edited by Layton, Robert et al, Routledge Cavendish, 2006, p. 238.

Wild Ancestors of Chinese Rice are mainly found in India and Southeast Asia

Li, Changbao et al, Rice domestication by reducing shattering, Science 2006,

311:1936-1939. (p. 1936). Threshing of Chinese rice is very difficult (p.
1938)—a feature of wildness.

Japonica Rice (Chinese Rice) did not originate in South China, but originated
in the Island Southeast Asia where it was domesticated too: Chinese rice
domestication is a myth

1. Shomura, A. et al, Deletion in a gene associated with grain size

increased yields during rice domestication, Nat Genet 2008, 40:1023-
2. Fuller, D. and Yo-ichiro Sato, Japonica rice carried to, not from,
Southeast Asia, Nat Genet 2008, 40(11):1264-65.
3. Izawa, T., Shomura, A. et al, Reply to “Japonica rice carried to, not
from, Southeast Asia”, Nature Genetics 2008, 40: 1265-66.
4. Izawa, T., Shoumura, A. et al, DNA changes tell us about rice
domestication, Current Opinion in Plant Biology , 2009, 12:185-192.

This is consistent with the human DNA finding that Austronesian speakers
from ISEA entered and spread their culture into the Mainland Southeast Asia:
Peng, Min-Sheng et al, Tracing the Austronesian Footprint in Mainland
Southeast Asia: A Perspective from Mitochondrial DNA, Mol. Biol. Evol. 2010,

Wild Indian rice has greatest genetic diversity of all rices

1. Garris, A.J. et al, Genetic structure and diversity in Oryza sativa L.

Genetics 2005, 169, 1631–1638.
2. Izawa, T., Shoumura, A. et al, DNA changes tell us about rice
domestication, Current Opinion in Plant Biology , 2009, 12:185-192.

Genes Crucial for domestication originated in Indian rice and migrated later to
China, then entered Japonica rice (by cross pollination)

1. Sang, Tao, Genes and Mutations underlying domestication transitions in

grasses, Plant Physiology, 2009, 149: 63-70. Anti-shattering gene sh4
evolved in Indian domesticated rice then migrated to Japonica (p. 64).
2. Zhang, D. et al, Genetic structure and differentiation of Oryza sativa L.
in China revealed by microsatellites, TAG Theoretical and Applied
Genetics 2009, 119(6): 1105-1115.
3. Chen, et al, Distribution of deletion type in CpDNA of cultivated and
wild rice, Japanese Journal of Genetics 1993, 68: 597-603.

The Art of Cultivating Rice went from India to China

1. Murphy, D.J., People, Plants and Genes: Story of Crops and Humanity ,
Oxford University Press, 2007 (p. 178).
2. Edmondson, Jerry, The power of language over the past: Tai settlement
and Tai linguistics in southern China and northern Vietnam,: (Edmondson is a Utah University
professor of linguistics and specialist of SEA).

Evidence of 10,000 years old Radio-Carbon dated Pottery Neolithic rice

farming sites from Ganga Valley (India)

1. Tewari, Rakesh et al, Early Farming at Lahuradewa, Pragdhara

2. Sharma GR. 1985. From Hunting and Food-gathering to Domestication
of Plants and Animals in the Belan and Ganga Valleys. In Recent
Advances in Indo-Pacific Prehistory : Proceedings of the International
Symposium Held at Poona, December 19-21, 1978 (ed. VN Misra and P
Bellwood). BRILL (Pub.).

Linguistic Evidence Suggesting Origin of Austro-Asiatic in India

1. Diffloth, G., “The Contribution of Linguistic Palaeontology to the

Homeland of Austro-Asiatic”, in Sagart, L. et al (Eds.), The Peopling of
East Asia, Routledge, London, 2005. [The homeland of Austro-Asiatic
suggested by Diffloth spreads from northeast India and Bangladesh to
north Myanmar.].
2. Priyadarshi, P., Recent Studies in Indian Archaeo-linguistics and Archaeo-
genetics having bearing on Indian Prehistory, Joint Annual Conference of
Indian Archaeology Society, Indian Society for Prehistoric and
Quaternary Studies, Indian History and Culture Society, Lucknow, 30
December, 2010.7

Moreover, when agricultural migration occurred, not only human Y-

chromosome and rice migrated, but there were many accompanying things
like commensals and cattle. We need to see what evidence is in favour of
cattle and commensal migration:

Mice and Rats migrated from India to Southeast Asia during the period under

1. Groves, Colin P., “Domesticated and Commensal Mammals of

Austronesia and Their Histories”, in Bellwood, P., Fox, J. and Tryon,
D., The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives ,
1995. Also, Groves, C. P., Of mice and men and pigs in the Indo-
Australian archipelago, Canberra Anthropology 1984, 7:1-19. (Mus
caroli, Mus cervicolor and Rattus argentiventer, Mus dunni, Rattus
nitidus, Bandicoot-rat Bandicota bengalensis).
2. Bonhomme, F., Species-wide distribution of highly polymorphic
minisatellite markers suggests past and present genetic exchanges

Evidence-from-Human-Animal-and-plant-DNAs-and-from-linguistics pp. 6-8.

among house mouse subspecies, Genome Biology 2007, 8:R80. See

Fig. 1 in the article for route map of mice from India to AEA:
3. Geraldis, Armando, et al, Inferring the history of speciation in house
mice from autosomal, X-linked, Y-linked and mitochondrial genes,
Molecular Ecology 2008, 17(24):5349-5363.
4. Din, W. et al, Origin and radiation of the house mouse: clues from
nuclear genes, Journal of Evolutionary Biology 1996, 9(5):519-539.
5. Boursot, P. et al, Evolution of House Mice, Annual Review of
Ecology and Systematics 1993, 24:119-152.

Domestication of Buffalo occurred in India, and Southeast Asian and Chinese

domesticated Zebu cows had been domesticated in India then migrated out:

1. Kumar, Satish et al, Phylogenography and domestication of Indian river

buffalo, BMC Evolutionary Biology 2007, 7:186,
2. Jarrige, C., Mehrgarh Neolithic, Pragdhara 2006, 18:135-154, p. 143.
[Bones of buffalo from 9000 years old Indian site].
3. Groves, C. P., “Domesticated and Commensal Mammals of Austronesia
and Their Histories”, in Bellwood, P., Fox, J. and Tryon, D., The
Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives , 1995.
4. Bellwood, The First Farmers, 2005, p. 84 [about 9000 years old buffalo
bones at Mehrgarh, India (now Pakistan)].
5. Chen, S. et al; Zebu cattle are an exclusive legacy of the South Asian
Neolithic, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Sept 21, 2009,
0:msp213v1-msp213. (accepted manuscript)

[Linguistically too-- Thai (koh), Pinyin Chinese (gu and ku), Cantonese ngau
all meaning ‘cow’ are only modified forms of Indo-European word ‘cow’ and
Sanskrit gau].


Thus we can see that the authors of this article missed to read the valuable
wealth of knowledge gathered from DNA studies of rice, cattle, buffalo, mice
and rats as well as archaeological studies pertaining to them. There are other
gross problems as well. Their conclusion and results are conflicting with the
works done earlier on this same topic:

Y-Chromosomal DNA Evidence suggesting origin of Austro-Asiatics in India


1. Kumar, V. et al, Y-chromosome evidence suggests a common paternal

heritage of Austro-Asiatic populations, BMC Evol Biol 2007, 7:47.
[They found origin of O2a-M95 in India, about 65,000 +/- 40,000
years back].
2. Reddy, B. M. et al, Austroasiatic Tribes of Northeast India Provide
Hitherto Missing Genetic Link between South and Southeast Asia, PLoS
One, 2007, 2(11):e1141. [This article examines both Y-chromosomal
as well as mitochondrial DNA, and finds that on both the bases, the
Austro-Asiatic speakers originated in India and then migrated to the
Southeast Asia through northeast Indian corridor.]
3. Trivedi, R. et al, Genetic Imprints of Pleistocene Origin of Indian
Populations: A Comprehensive Phylogeographic Sketch of Indian Y-
Chromosomes, Int J Hum Genet, 2008, 8(1-2): 97-118. [This work
found overall age of O2a-M95 in India as 36,000 years.]

Other Problems in the Study

Apart from not exhausting the published literature on the topic, there are
many other problems in the article. For example just to cite a few:

1. Figure 5B of the Article: This phylogenetic network shows most of the

central dots to be purple (ISEA, Austronesian) or green (Munda). The
blue dots representing mainland SEA are peripheral in the dendrogram,
and are arising from mostly purple (ISEA), and also sometimes from
green (Indian) dots. This means the mainland SEA people originated
from the Indian or ISEA population. But the text (table 4) shows that
the Mainland SEA population was the oldest. This is a self-
contradiction in the article.
2. The age of northeast Indian Khasi (10.6+-1.6) is less than North
Munda (12.4+- 1.3), which in turn is less than South Munda (18.4+-
2.4). This is consistent with a south to north to northeast migration
within India. Thus by implication, the authors want to say that the
Austro-Asiatic speakers originated in the Mainland Southeast Asia
(23,800 years back) and then reached by sea through Bay of Bengal to
Central India’s east coast about 18,400 years back. Then later they
reached from both directions to Northeast India (10,600 years back).
3. If one compares Figs 5A and 5C, one finds that the area of China
adjoining Taiwan has almost nil frequency of O2a (Fig. 5A), yet this
same area has the highest variance (indicating time-depth) in Fig 5C.
Yet the conclusions in text or table do not mention that China was the
place of origin of O2a (see Table 4).

This has resulted primarily because of not understanding the nature of +/-
range of statistics. When a range of this type is given in statistics, like 23.8
+/- 4.2 kya, it is equally well possible that the Mainland SEA had this DNA at
the earliest about 19,600 years back, and the Indian one (South Munda, 18.4
+/- 2.4 kya) had it 20,800 years back. Under such circumstances, it is the
ancillary evidence which becomes important, which in this case will be:
studies of rice, cow, mice and buffalo DNAs. Other ancillary evidence would
be studies of mitochondrial DNA or autosomal DNA.

Chaubey et al must have appreciated that a group of only one male lineage
O2a (M95) could not have migrated in isolation without incorporating some
non-O2a males belonging to their society. Thus any migration from Southeast
Asia to Central and East India must have carried some O3 and O1a male
lineages along with the O2a lineage. But we do not find any presence of such
eastern lineages in the Munda speakers. On the other hand, the Southeast
Asians carry many male Y-chromosomal lineages (haplogroups) which are
provenly Indian in origin, and which are evidence that they went to SEA along
with O2a. Some such Y-chromosomal haplogroups are F, H, K2 (T) etc.

Moreover the men carrying O2a must have been accompanied by some
women. These lineages—both male and female—should be reflected in the
story of migration. An earlier work found that the mitochondrial DNA lineage
R7, which had been alleged to be Southeast Asian, and also allegedly had
migrated to India with Austro-Asiatic speakers, was in fact Indian in origin
(Chaubey, G. et al; “Phylogeography of mtDNA haplogroup R7 in the Indian
peninsula”, in BMC Evol. Biol. 2008 Aug 4, 8:227). This clearly proved that
the mtDNA R7 originated in India and migrated with O2a and other males, who
spoke Austro-Asiatic languages, to the Southeast Asia.

Many more such works on mitochondrial DNAs have proved that the Austro-
Asiatic speakers are autochthonous population of India, and migration if at all
occurred, must have been from India to SEA:
1. Edwin, Deepa et al; “Mitochondrial DNA diversity among five tribal
populations of southern India”, in Research Communications of Current
Science, July 2002, 83(2): p. 158.
2. Mountain J. L. et al, “Demographic history of India and mtDNA-
sequence diversity”, in Am J Hum Genet 1995, 56 (4):979-992;
3. Majumder, P. P.; “Ethnic population of India as seen from an
evolutionary perspective”, in J. Biosci 2001, 26 (4 suppl): 533-545;
4. Sharma, S. et al; “The Indian origin of paternal haplogroup R1a1*
substantiates the autochthonous origin of Brahmins and the caste
system”, in Journal of Human Genetics 2009, 54: 47–55.
5. Chaubey, G. et al; “Phylogeography of mtDNA haplogroup R7 in the
Indian peninsula”, in BMC Evol. Biol. 2008 Aug 4, 8:227.

6. Horst, B. et al, Human Y-chromosomal STR types in north Thailand,

International Journal of Legal Medicine 1999 April, 112(3): 211-212.
[This article finds that a particular India specific Y-STR is particularly
common in Thailand].

Associating the racial feature of straight thick hairs with the East Asians, and
presuming that racial features or races have evolved separately in different
areas of the world is a product of racist unconscious of the authors. Thus
they studied one autosomal “EDAR 1540C” gene which causes thick hairs.
They presumed that this is a Mongoloid feature and must have originated in
the Mongoloid homeland East Asia.

Far from being that, this mutation or gene (EDAR 1540 C) as well as most of
such racial markers originated in the common gene pool before dispersal to
East. This particular hair gene originated in India after the European lineages
had left India.8 Yet it has spread to west of India too in low frequencies,
because of later low grade migration out of India to West. This is clear from
the EDAR 1540C distribution map drawn in the article (Fig. 4A, page 1020),
which shows that the gene is found in low frequencies in North and East
Africa, West Europe, India and in high frequency in both the Americas and
China. During Last Glacial Maximum it was selected favourably in colder
areas of world, because it provided protection to the head from cold (ibid).
Thus its frequency increased in all those populations which were exposed to
cold. This same gene is also associated with shovel shaped incisors9, which is
so common in India especially in Bihar, Bengal and Orissa.

Chaubey et al’s data depicted in Fig. 4B (p. 1020) shows that this gene (EDAR
1540) is significant in all those populations of India/ South Asia which are
considered very old inhabitants of the sub-continent because of presence of
old Y-chromosomal as well as mitochondrial DNA markers. Thus Hazra
(Afghanistan), Burusho (Kashmir, India) and Tharu10 (Indo-European speaking
Indo-Nepal boarder region) were found to have this gene by Chaubey et al.
These were considered migrants from East Asia on this account by the wise

Thus Chaubey et al (2011) propose that the Tharu arrived into India from
Southeast Asia, when they spoke Austro-Asiatic language, but they later
converted to Indo-European. Fornarino et al showed that Tharu men carry Y-

Fujimoto, A. et al, A scan for genetic determinants of human hair morphology: EDAR is
associated with Asian hair thickness, Human Molecular Genetics, 2008, 17(6): 835–843.
Kimura, R. et al, A Common Variation in EDAR Is a Genetic Determinant of Shovel-
Shaped Incisors, AJHG 2009, 85(4): 528-535
Fornarino, S. et al, Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome diversity of the Tharus (Nepal): a
reservoir of genetic variation, BMC Evolutionary Biology 2009, 9:154.

chromosomal lineages of C5, D*, D1, E1b1b, H1a1*, H2, J2a*, J2b2*, K*, L1,
O2a1a1, O3a3c*, O3a3c1, O1, R1a1* and R2 haplogroups. There was no O2a*
or an early branch of O2a in the Tharu population. Hence such suggestion by
the learned authors that Tharu belonged to Austro-Asiatic stock is

Of course, there are some O3 samples detected in the Tharu samples of

Fornarino (2009). But they are present all over India in low frequency. O3*
was found in 2% of New Delhi Hindi speaker, O3a3c were found in 3.8% of
Indo-European caste Hindus of Terai, and 3.5% of Tharus. O1 was found in
6.5% of New Delhi Hindi speaker and 2.6% of Central Tharu. This is no
evidence of East Asian migration into India, but is simply a reflection of clinal
nature of all such DNAs. Moreover, it must be remembered that that O3 and
O3a5 originated at the eastern tip of Northeast India, and O3a originated in
Myanmar adjoining India, not in China, as has been made clear by study of
Hong Shi et al (op. cit., Fig. 4; p. 414)11. They have not given data for O3a3,
but that must also have originated in between northeast India and Myanmar.

Hence finding of merely 5% frequency of EDAR 1540C gene in the Indian

Austro-Asiatic speakers should not have warranted the conclusion that this
gene came to India with these people migrating into India with O2a-M95
lineage from Southeast Asia.

The article also reflects obvious bias and manipulation of data. The authors
have not included any Indo-European O2a or Dravidian speaking O2a sample
from India deliberately. On the other hand in case of Southeast Asia, they
have included O2a samples from Mainland Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan and
Island Southeast Asia. These samples have included individuals speaking not
only Austro-Asiatic languages, but also Daic, Chinese and Austronesian
languages. This has increased the variability and hence age of the so called
Southeast Asian sample.

Again, the authors have divided Indian Austro-Asiatic speaking O2a

population in three groups: South Munda, North Munda and Khasi, and their
ages have been calculated separately. But in case of Southeast Asia, they
have calculated age of “Overall Southeast Asia” which includes Chinese and
Taiwanese samples too. Again, within this group, they have calculated age of
O2a in Mainland SEA and Island SEA. Mainland SEA sample included the
Chinese sample, and ISEA sample included the Taiwanese samples of Chinese
language speakers. Had Dravidian and Indo-European speakers’ O2a been
also included in the study, and all the Indian samples been considered
together, the age of Indian O2a must have far exceeded the overall age of so-
called overall SEA age for this haplogroup.

Moreover, the dates arrived at for migration into India (18,600 years back) is
too early to be associated with farming if we should believe Bellwood.

Thus a reader of this article may get misled by the conclusions of this article,
which is no more than personal preferred belief of some of the most powerful
authors in this field of human migration.