Some Pacific Islanders Have DNA Not Linked To Any Known Human Ancestor

Jan 29, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Most everyone knows that the islands of the South Pacific are some of the most remote and unique places on Earth, but a 2016 study revealed just how distinctive the area’s inhabitants really are.

Researchers found traces of a previously unknown human ancestor in the DNA of the Melanesians, a group of Pacific Islanders living throughout Papua New Guinea and the surrounding area.

Ryan Bohlender, a statistical geneticist at the University of Texas in Houston, reported the findings at an annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics on Oct. 20, 2016.

According to Ancient Origins, a computer analysis suggested that the unidentified ancestral hominid species that researchers discovered is unlikely to be either Neanderthal or Denisovan. Because these are the only two known predecessors of humankind at this point, that conclusion is remarkable

“We’re missing a population or we’re misunderstanding something about the relationships,” said Bohlender.

Neanderthal fossils have been found all over Europe and Asia, while Denisovan DNA evidence is based entirely on a finger bone and a few teeth discovered in a Siberian cave in 2010. But the DNA that Bohlender studied contained elements separate from either of these groups.

Indeed, interbreeding between Neanderthals and Denisovans did not tell the whole story regarding the genetic makeup of the Melanesians. That said, this third human ancestor could be an extinct, distinct cousin of the Neanderthal, according to the modeling done by Bohlender and his colleagues. But much about this unexplained DNA remains mysterious.

According to Science Alert, it’s largely agreed that between 100,000 and 60,000 years ago (though estimates vary widely), our early ancestors left Africa and first made contact with Neanderthals, another hominid species living in Eurasia. This eventually left both Europeans and Asians with distinct traces of Neanderthal DNA.

Bohlender’s computer models are able to discern how much Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA is found in human populations around the world.

Bohlender and his team calculated that Europeans and Chinese people carry about the same percentage of Neanderthal DNA — 2.8 percent. But Denisovan DNA isn’t as common.

Europeans have no amount of Denisovan ancestry, for example, while Chinese people have around 0.1 percent and Melanesians carry about 1.11 percent Denisovan DNA — as opposed to the 3 to 6 percent predicted by the model.

So while Bohlender’s model worked for pretty much everyone on Earth, it did not for the Melanesians.

This discrepancy between what the computer model predicted and what the researchers found leaves a missing link, an unaccounted for piece of the Melanesians’ ancestry that could be explained by a heretofore unknown human ancestor.

“Human history is a lot more complicated than we thought it was,” Bohlender said.

Bohlender’s findings are echoed by a separate study from the same year conducted by the Natural History Museum of Denmark, which analyzed the DNA of 83 Aboriginal Australians and 25 locals from Papua New Guinea’s highlands.

That was the most comprehensive genetic study of Australia’s indigenous population ever undertaken. What they found wasn’t merely that Aboriginals are the oldest continuous civilization on the planet, dating back over 50,000 years, but that their DNA was so distinct that a third, unidentified hominid may have been at play. “Who this group is we don’t know,” said lead researcher Eske Willerslev.

A blonde Melanesian boy from Vanuatu, a member of one of the rarest genetic groups on Earth.

As it stands, analyzing the genetic makeup of modern humans in order to understand which extinct early humans are their ancestors is a colossal task. It’s hard to gauge whether or not unfamiliar DNA comes from an undiscovered species or an undiscovered variant within a known species.

According to statistical geneticist Elizabeth Blue of the University of Washington in Seattle, however, if Denisovans weren’t genetically diverse and thus there is no unaccounted for Denisovan variation, then a third human ancestor would be the logical explanation.

But with our only source of Denisovan DNA being a finger bone and some teeth, we may not have a full picture of this group’s genetic makeup for a long while, further hampering any study in this arena.

Nonetheless, it seems increasingly clear that a third ancestor might explain the mysterious lineage of groups like the Melanesians and perhaps others.

Unrepentant teen with a long list of offences is why some parents shouldn't breed

Nov 25, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Ralph Wee Yi Kai, a 19-year-old Singaporean man, has pleaded guilty to eight charges on Nov. 25 during his plead guilty mention before District Judge May Mesenas.

The charges include consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure at the Singapore Zoo, and committing mischief by damaging property, reported CNA.

Another six charges will be considered during his sentencing.

Probation is "not realistic"

Wee pleaded guilty via video link from his place in remand, where he has been since Nov. 6.

The prosecution strongly objected to a probation suitability report, noting that Wee is "beyond the control of his parents, which renders probation unsuitable", according to CNA.

The prosecution asserted that probation "is not realistic" for Wee, based on his repeated offences and conduct in court.

They cited his "blatant disregard for rules", and urged for a reformative training suitability report instead.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Melissa Lee said Wee "has a tendency to abuse drugs and alcohol", which caused him to behave aggressively towards his parents.

He also "posed a risk" to them, which led him to be admitted to the Institute of Mental Health.

"Never expected it to come to this"

Wee's defence lawyer Shashi Nathan requested for the addition of a probation suitability report, according to CNA.

Shashi maintains that his family is able to supervise Wee, and added that his client "comes from a good family" who are "able to look after him".

He said that Wee was undergoing "a severe emotional crisis" when he committed his offences, and shared that the case has also affected Wee's family, especially after their home address was released to the press.

"While Ralph understands that what he did was wrong, he never expected it to come to this," said Shashi.

Difference between probation and reformative training

Wee was ordered to go though both assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report, reported Yahoo News.

Offenders who undergo probation will not have a criminal record, while reformative training, which provides a more structured environment, results in a criminal record.

What Wee's lawyer said

Wee's lawyer said his client acted out after breaking up with his girlfriend, 18, who was the one who filmed the video of Wee backflipping in the zoo.

The defence lawyer, Shashi, said Wee spiralled into an emotional crisis as a result of his break-up.

Wee is homeschooled.

The court was told Wee saw a video of a man riding a giraffe and decided to make a video in the rhino enclosure, Yahoo News reported.

The ex-girlfriend had filmed the act and posted it on her private Snapchat account.

Wee posted it on his public TikTok account and a police report was made by a zoo personnel within the same day.

Wee removed the video when he was told to do so by the police, but reposted it on Dec. 18, before being told to remove it again, claiming he thought the video had been made private when he reposted it.

Wee had also included a link in his Instagram account biography to directed to a page selling t-shirts with the words "rhino ralph".

But he denied creating the merchandise profile.

He later removed the link.

Wee will return to court on Dec. 20 for his sentencing.

Timeline of events with updated details

Oct. 9, 2020, 2:40am: Allegedly committed an act of vandalism by hitting an information panel at a bus stop in Sixth Avenue, off Bukit Timah Road, causing S$900 in damage.

Allegedly caused damage to two cars -- S$2,800 to a Mercedes-Benz and more than S$1,600 to a BMW -- in nearby Sixth Crescent.

A taxi driver passing by reported him to the police, as Wee was standing in the middle of the road with a beer bottle in hand.

Dec. 16, 2020: Wee was placed on compulsory supervision for 60 months from Dec. 16. He was required to present himself for urine tests on each Tuesday and Thursday, but failed to turn up on four occasions.

He was placed on e-tagging during this period of time, after having been charged for his earlier offences.

He had to stay at home from 10pm to 6am as part of his bail conditions.

Dec. 17, 2020, 2.40pm: Accused of trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure and taking a video.

Dec. 18, 2020: Reposted zoo video, despite taking it down earlier after being told to do so by the police. Told to remove video again.

Dec. 24, 2020: Accused of abusing a frog, which subsequently died, by hitting a ball against it on a foosball table, causing "unnecessary pain and suffering".

The incident allegedly took place at a Sentosa Cove property.

July 2021: First hauled to court and charged with two counts of mischief, as well as one count each of vandalism and criminal trespass.

Bail was then set at S$15,000.

Aug. 6, 2021: Allegedly consumed cannabis while out on bail. Arrested at his residence and two urine samples obtained tested positive for weed. S$15,000 bail revoked.

Sep. 14, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-vaporiser and six e-cigarette pods at a ward in the Institute of Mental Health.

Three police officers showed up at IMH, where Wee was warded, to arrest him for failing to attend court.

He was admitted to IMH due to his drug and alcohol abuse, as had acted aggressively towards his parents when they demanded the drugs from him.

He was warded in IMH due to the risk he posed to his parents.

Oct. 13, 2021: Charged with one count of drug consumption while still in remand.

Bail raised to S$20,000 and Wee was released.

While out on second bail, Wee committed a string of offences, including cutting his electronic tag, according to ST, as well as not reporting for his urine tests on a few occasions, CNA reported.

The prosecution has called for an urgent bail review hearing to have Wee's second bail revoked for the alleged fresh offences.

Oct. 26, 2021: Allegedly cut a S$100 GPS ankle tag at an address on Leedon Road at about 12:10am.

Prior to this act, Wee was upset at his father, who had asked Wee to sleep early since he had to report for his urine test in the morning.

After arguing with his father, Wee decided to leave the house, and used pliers to cut off his e-tag before cycling to his friend’s house.

Upon discovering that Wee was missing, his father called the police.

The e-tag, worth S$100, was damaged and could no longer be used.

It was found in Wee’s house.

Oct. 28, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-cigarette pod at the Leedon Road address.

Nov. 5, 2021: Warrant of arrest issued, as Wee could not wake up to attend court.

Nov. 6, 2021: Wee arrested.

Nov. 12, 2021: Slapped with four additional charges.

Nov. 25, 2021: Pleaded guilty to consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into a rhino enclosure, and committing mischief by damaging property belonging to others.

Ordered to go though assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report.