Prehistoric human migration between Sundaland and South Asia was driven by sea-level rise
by Hie Lim Kim | Hung Tran The Nguyen | Benjamin P Horton | Tanghua Li | Nanyang Technological University | Nanyang Technological University | Nanyang Technological University | Nanyang Technological University
Abstract ID: 27
Event: The 3rd AsiaEvo Conference
Topic: Open category
Presenter Name: Hie Lim Kim

Rapid sea-level rise between the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the mid-Holocene dramatically transformed the Southeast Asian coastal landscape and the landmass was reduced to half. However, the impact on human demography remains unclear. Here, we create a paleogeographic map that focuses on sea-level changes during the period spanning the LGM to the present day, and we infer the human population history in Southeast and South Asia using 763 high-coverage whole-genome sequencing datasets from 59 ethnic groups. We show that sea-level rise, particularly meltwater pulses 1A (MWP1A, ~14,500–14,000 years ago) and 1B (MWP1B, ~11,500–11,000 years ago), resulted in the fragmentation of the landmass and promoted segregation of the Sundaland populations, contributing to the diversity of Southeast Asians. As a result of the rapid sea-level rises, the increase in population density drove the migration of Malaysian Negritos into South Asia, as we found genetic evidence of common ancestry between the populations. Integrated paleogeographic and population genomic analysis demonstrates the earliest documented instance of forced human migration driven by sea-level rise.