Re: Origins

Rod Hagen (
Thu, 18 May 1995 15:37:41 +1000

In article <>, (Gil
Hardwick) wrote:

> In article <3oiqro$> (Phil
Nicholls) writes:
> >
> > It is believed that blood groups A and B were absent from the
> > aboriginal populations of North and South America. In South America
> > and the southern part of North America the gene for A is found at
> > a frequency of 0.05 of less while the gene for B is 0.05 or less
> > throughout North and South America except for the coastal areas
> > of Australia. By contrast, the frequency of the O allele in South
> > America and the southern part of North America is between 0.95 and
> > 1.0. There is an interesting pocket in Central West United States
> > in which the frequency of A reaches 0.05-0.15 and I believe it may
> > be attributed to a later movement from siberia.
> >
> > Source: Mourant, A.E. (1954) Distribution of Human Blood Groups
> I am only a tad confused here, Phillip, about whether you are citing
> a reference on blood groups, or a reference on genes for blood groups
> in support of your position on human evolution.
> Are you saying to us here that the researchers had actually gone out
> into the field doing genetic research way back then during the late
> 1940s and early 1950s, more than likely much earlier given the number
> of widely distributed study sites, and there had actually located the
> genes for all these different blood groups?

.................. lengthy deletia

> Let me tell you, Mr Nichols, that Norman Tindale carried out the work
> here in Australia and had published his preliminary monograph on his
> results as far back as 1940. His own American colleague Joe Birdsell
> had resurrected the material during the 1970s specifically to refute
> doubts expressed by the Australian anthropologist Ronald Berndt (UWA)
> arising from his own subsequent field research as to their usefulness
> in determining "tribal boundaries".
> The research program had nothing to do with human origins or genes at
> all, and proceeded in any event by deploying a statistical analyses of
> ASSUMPTIONS as to which men and women only MAY HAVE BEEN having sex
> with one another based on patterns of marriage from place to place.

Gil and Phil (and anybody else interested in such matters) may benefit
from a glance at some of the stuff produced by Roy Simmons and R.L. Kirk.
By the way, Tindale and Birdsell were right into biometric and biomedical
analysis in their grand tour of Australia in the 1930's. Just ask any poor
Aboriginal person who ran into them during their travels! Birdsell himself
undertook blood group tests of 700 Aboriginal people in WA and Queensland
in 1938-39. There has been a huge amount of research into Australian
Aboriginal blood group distribution since then (Simmons and his colleagues
alone published more than 90 papers on the matter) and there doesn't seem
any real reason to doubt its general accuracy, though its interpretation
may be another matter.

Simmons provides a summary of blood group related research in Australia in
"The biological origin of Australian Aborigines - An examination of blood
group genes and gene frequencies for possible evidence in populations from
Australia to Eurasia" (in The Origin of the Australians ed Kirk and
Thorne, AIAS, 1976 - various other articles in this book are also of
relevance, especially Kirk's Serum protein and enzyme markers as
indicators of population affinities in Australia and the Western

Simmons discusses a variety of blood grouping systems, including the
A1A2BO, MNSs, Rh, P1, Le(a), Lu(a), K etc etc.

The following lengthy quotation summarises information about A1A2BO groups.

"More than 10,000 Aboriginals hve been tested for the ABO blood groups and
out of the possible groups and out of the possible groups O, A1, A2, B,
A1B amd A2B only grouips O and A1 have ben found in unmixed Aboriginals
over the greater part of Australia. However, group B with a remarkable
frequency of .23 has been found in 47 apparently unmixed Bentinck
Islanders in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The number tested represented most
of the surviving members of this population which had been isolated from
any other contact for centuries. They possessed only the O and B genes,
the A gene apparently having been lost in the various population
decimations suffered by these people, or alternatively, the founder group
lacked A when it initially reached Bentinck Island.

The larger Mornington Island slightly north of Bentinck has a small amount
of A, a trace of B and an O frequency of 0.93. these two islands appear
to provide a classic case of microevolution in Man. Simmons et al (1962)
discussed at length the findings and possible historical background of
these island-dwelling Aboriginals.

To the northeast on Cape York is the Mitcjhell River mission settlement
and here A, B, and O genes are found, with B again having a high frequency
of 0.14. Elsewhere in Australia only occasional examples of B have been
recorded in apparently unmixed Aboriginals, but mostly where B has been
found admixture is known, or is physiocally evident. We accept that B is
an introduced gene and occurs mostly in the north of Australia. The
highest values for the A gene are found in central Australia and these
values extend into Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The
highest peaks of O (0.85-0.96) are found in and around Cape York and in
the islands of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Subgroup A2 is uniformly absent in unmixed Aboriginals in all parts of

Kirk also provided a summary document of earlier research published by
AIAS in 1965 (The Distribution of Genetic Markers in Australian

No doubt there is more recent information available.

I don't think that there is any doubt that the research indicates "that
what we are looking at is the distribution of GENES for those blood

On the other hand, to me at least, Birdsell's argument with Hiatt and
others, referred to obliquely by Gil, (and Hiatt's with Berndt, Stanner
and others) concerning aspects of Aboriginal territorial organisation are
much more interesting matters for debate. Any takers?


Rod Hagen