Mapping: Islands of Polynesia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Islands of Polynesia

Mains level: NA

How did the Polynesian peoples come to live on the far-flung islands of the Pacific? The question has intrigued researchers for centuries.

The newscard contains some trivial facts. However, aspirants are advised to observe the map.

Study on Polynesia

  • Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl brought the topic to public attention when he sailed a balsa-wood raft called the Kon-Tiki from Peru to Polynesia in 1947.
  • His goal was to demonstrate such voyages were possible, supporting theories linking Polynesian origins to the Americas.
  • Decades of research in archaeology, linguistics and genetics now show that Polynesian origins lie to the west, ultimately in the islands of Southeast Asia.

New evidence for American interlopers

  • A new study published in Nature reports genetic evidence of Native American ancestry in several Polynesian populations.
  • Other researchers have previously found evidence of indigenous American DNA in the genomes of the modern inhabitants of Rapa Nui.
  • Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, is the part of Polynesia closest to South America.
  • This suggests the “Amerindian” genetic component was likely introduced later via Chilean colonists.

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