The Early Peopling of the Philippines based on mtDNA

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Despite the eforts made to reconstruct the history of modern humans, there are still poorly explored regions that are key for understanding the phylogeography of our species. One of them is the Philippines, which is crucial to unravel the colonization of Southeast Asia and Oceania but where little is known about when and how the frst humans arrived. In order to shed light into this settlement, we collected samples from 157 individuals of the Philippines with the four grandparents belonging to the same region and mitochondrial variants older than 20,000 years. Next, we analyzed the hypervariable I mtDNA region by approximate Bayesian computation based on extensive spatially explicit computer simulations to select among several migration routes towards the Philippines and to estimate population genetic parameters of this colonization. We found that the colonization of the Philippines occurred more than 60,000 years ago, with long-distance dispersal and from both north and south migration routes. Our results also suggest an environmental scenario especially optimal for humans, with large carrying capacity and population growth, in comparison to other regions of Asia. In all, our study suggests a rapid expansion of modern humans towards the Philippines that could be associated with the establisment of maritime technologies and favorable environmental conditions.