- a first wave from the Malay archipelago perhaps 50,000 years ago when New Guinea and Australia were a single landmass called Sahul,
- 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 (though only a minority of Austronesian-speaking Papuans have detectable Austronesian ancestry).
Linguistically, Papuans speak languages from the many families of non-Austronesian languages which 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.
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.
Ethnologue's 14th edition lists 826 languages of Papua New Guinea and 257 languages of Western New Guinea, total 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, since so-called Papuan languages comprise hundreds of different languages, most of which are not related.
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. 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.
Papuan ethnic groups
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The following indigenous peoples live within the modern borders of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Austronesian-speaking (AN) groups are given in italics.
Papua New Guinea
- Abba Bina, notable businessman
- Frans Kaisiepo, 4th Governor of Papua and National Hero of Indonesia
- Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, Indonesian badminton player and 2014 Asian Games women's doubles gold medalist
- Peter O'Neill, 7th Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
- Freddy Numberi, politician and former Indonesian minister
- Raema Lisa Rumbewas, Indonesian weightlifter and silver medalist at 2000 Summer Olympics and 2004 Summer Olympics
- Boaz Solossa, Indonesian professional footballer
- Michael Somare, former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
- Heather Watson, English female tennis player
- Aboriginal Australians
- Indigenous Australians
- Koteka Tribal Assembly
- Moluccans (to the west of New Guinea)
- Negrito (Southeast Asia)
- Papua conflict
- Stéphane Breton (filmmaker)
- Torres Strait Islanders between New Guinea and mainland Australia (including the Meriam people, whose language family is otherwise found in New Guinea).
- 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.)
- Encyclopædia Britannica Online
- 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.
- 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.
- Palmer, Bill (2018). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area. Mouton De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
- "Ongoing Adaptive Evolution of ASPM, a Brain Size Determinant in Homo sapiens", Science, 9 September 2005: Vol. 309. no. 5741, pp. 1720–1722.
- 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)
- W. G. Lawes (1882), "New Guinea and Its People", Popular Science Monthly
- Media related to People of Papua New Guinea at Wikimedia Commons