Indigenous people of New Guinea

  (Redirected from Papuans)

The indigenous peoples of New Guinea, commonly called Papuans,[1] are Melanesians. There is genetic evidence for two major historical lineages in New Guinea and neighboring islands:

  1. a first wave from the Malay archipelago perhaps 50,000 years ago when New Guinea and Australia were a single landmass called Sahul,
  2. and, much later, a wave of Austronesian people from the north who introduced Austronesian languages and pigs about 3,500 years ago, and who left a small but significant genetic trace in many coastal Papuan peoples (only a minority of Austronesian-speaking Papuans have detectable Austronesian ancestry).
Papuans in the Yahukimo Regency
Children dressed up for sing-sing.

Linguistically, Papuans speak languages from the many families of non-Austronesian languages that are found only on New Guinea and neighboring islands, as well as Austronesian languages along parts of the coast, and recently developed creoles such as Tok Pisin, Unserdeutsch, and Papuan Malay.[2][3][4]

The term "Papuan" is used in a wider sense in linguistics and anthropology. In linguistics, "Papuan languages" is a cover term for the diverse, mutually unrelated, non-Austronesian language families spoken in Melanesia, the Torres Strait Islands, and parts of Wallacea. In anthropology, "Papuan" is often used to denote the highly diverse aboriginal populations of Melanesia and Wallacea prior to the arrival of Austronesian-speakers, and the dominant genetic traces of these populations in the current ethnic groups of these areas.[3]


The language families in Ross' conception of the Trans-New Guinea language family.

Ethnologue's 14th edition lists 826 languages of Papua New Guinea and 257 languages of Western New Guinea, a total of 1073 languages, with 12 languages overlapping. They can be divided into two groups, the Austronesian languages, and all the others, called Papuan languages for convenience. The term Papuan languages refers to an areal grouping, rather than a linguistic one. So-called Papuan languages comprise hundreds of different languages, most of which are not related.[5]


In a 2005 study of ASPM gene variants, Mekel-Bobrov et al. found that the Papuan people have among the highest rate of the newly evolved ASPM Haplogroup D, at 59.4% occurrence of the approximately 6,000-year-old allele.[6] While it is not yet known exactly what selective advantage is provided by this gene variant, the haplogroup D allele is thought to be positively selected in populations and to confer some substantial advantage that has caused its frequency to rapidly increase.

Main Y-DNA Haplogroups of Papuan people are Haplogroup K2b1 (Y-DNA) and Haplogroup C1b2a; a significant minority belong also to Haplogroup O-M175.[7]

Papuan ethnic groupsEdit

The following indigenous peoples live within the modern borders of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Austronesian-speaking (AN) groups are given in italics.

West PapuaEdit

Papua New GuineaEdit

Bismarck ArchipelagoEdit

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ From the Malay word pəpuah 'curly hair'. "Papuan". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  3. ^ a b Friedlaender, Jonathan; Friedlaender, FR; Reed FA; Kidd KK; Kidd JR (2008). "The Genetic Structure of Pacific Islanders". PLOS Genetics. 4 (3): e19. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0040019. PMC 2211537. PMID 18208337.
  4. ^ Jinam, Timothy A.; Phipps, Maude E.; Aghakhanian, Farhang; Majumder, Partha P.; Datar, Francisco; Stoneking, Mark; Sawai, Hiromi; Nishida, Nao; Tokunaga, Katsushi; Kawamura, Shoji; Omoto, Keiichi; Saitou, Naruya (August 2017). "Discerning the Origins of the Negritos, First Sundaland People: Deep Divergence and Archaic Admixture". Genome Biology and Evolution. 9 (8): 2013–2022. doi:10.1093/gbe/evx118. PMC 5597900. PMID 28854687.
  5. ^ Palmer, Bill (2018). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area. Mouton De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  6. ^ "Ongoing Adaptive Evolution of ASPM, a Brain Size Determinant in Homo sapiens", Science, 9 September 2005: Vol. 309. no. 5741, pp. 1720–1722.
  7. ^ 崎谷満『DNA・考古・言語の学際研究が示す新・日本列島史』(勉誠出版 2009年)(in Japanese)

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit