Indians broke Australian isolation 4,000 years ago: study

Updated 15 January 2013
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Indians broke Australian isolation 4,000 years ago: study

SYDNEY: Ancient Indians migrated to Australia and mixed with Aborigines 4,000 years ago, bringing the dingo’s ancestor with them, according to new research that re-evaluates the continent’s long isolation before European settlement.
The vast southern continent was thought to have been cut off from other populations until Europeans landed at the end of the 1700s, but the latest genetic and archaeological evidence throws that theory out.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, reported “evidence of substantial gene flow between Indian populations and Australia about 4,000 years ago.”
They analyzed genetic variations across the genome from Australian Aborigines to New Guineans, Southeast Asians, and Indians, including Dravidian speakers from the south.
“The prevailing view is that until the arrival of Europeans late in the 18th century, there was little, if any, contact between Australia and the rest of the world,” the study released on Tuesday noted.
However, analysis of genome-wide data gave a “significant signature of gene flow from India to Australia which we date to about 4,230 years ago,” or 141 generations back.
“Long before Europeans settled in Australia humans had migrated from the Indian subcontinent to Australia and mixed with Australian Aborigines,” the study said.
“Interestingly,” said lead researcher Irina Pugach, “this date also coincides with many changes in the archaeological record of Australia, which include a sudden change in plant processing and stone tool technologies... and the first appearance of the dingo in the fossil record.”
The study explained that although dingo DNA appears to have a southeast Asian origin, “morphologically, the dingo most closely resembles Indian dogs.
“The fact that we detect a substantial inflow of genes from India to Australia at about this time does suggest that all of these changes in Australia may be related to this migration.”
The predatory wild dingo (canis dingo) has grown into something of an Australian legend alongside kangaroos, but is often treated as a pest attacking sheep and cattle.
They roam the outback, hunting alone or in packs, communicate with wolf-like howls and scavenge from humans.
The term is believed to have been picked up by early settlers from a similar sounding Aboriginal word for a tame dog.
A common origin was also discovered for the Australian, New Guinean and Philippine Mamanwa populations, who had followed a southern migration route out of Africa beginning more than 40,000 years ago.
The researchers estimate the groups split about 36,000 years ago when Australia and New Guinea formed one land mass.
“Outside Africa, Aboriginial Australians are the oldest continuous population in the world,” said Pugach, a molecular anthropologist.
Australia offers some of the earliest archaeological evidence for the presence of humans outside Africa, with sites dated to at least 45,000 years ago.


Japan worker’s pay docked for taking lunch 3 minutes early

Updated 21 June 2018
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Japan worker’s pay docked for taking lunch 3 minutes early

TOKYO: A Japanese city official has been reprimanded and fined for repeatedly leaving his desk during work hours — but only for around three minutes to buy lunch.
The official, who works at the waterworks bureau in the western city of Kobe, began his designated lunch break early 26 times over the space of seven months, according to a city spokesman.
“The lunch break is from noon to 1 pm. He left his desk before the break,” the spokesman said on Thursday.
The official, 64, had half a day’s pay docked as punishment and the bosses called a news conference to apologize.
“It’s deeply regrettable that this misconduct took place. We’re sorry,” a bureau official told reporters, bowing deeply.
The worker was in violation of a public service law stating that officials have to concentrate on their jobs, according to the bureau.
The news sparked a heated debate on Japanese social media, with many defending the official.
“It’s sheer madness. It’s crazy. What about leaving your desk to smoke?” said one Twitter user.
“Is this a bad joke? Does this mean we cannot even go to the bathroom?” said another.
The city had previously suspended another official in February for a month after he had left his office numerous times to buy a ready-made lunch box during work hours.
The official was absent a total of 55 hours over six months, according to the city.