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Australians Amazonians Population Y carried ancestry related to indigenous Australians One study led by David Reich of Harvard University was published in the journal Nature.

Native Brazilian people like the Xavante (above) may owe much of their origins to the ancestors of Aborigines in Australasia.

Instead they believe the genetic link may be as old as the first human populations to colonise the continent.

It raises the prospect that the Aborigine populations may even have been living in the area before Native Americans arrived.

However, the researchers say they could have also travelled across ice sheets to the north.

Professor David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School who led the study, said: 'It's incredibly surprising.

Two other tribes, the Suruí and the Karitiana, were also found to have a similar genetic ancestry However, the scientists could not find any other traces in other Native American groups in South, Central or North America.

The researchers say the genetic signals do not match any population known to have contributed to Native American ancestry and the geographic pattern cannot be explained by post-colonial European, African or Polynesian mixture with Native Americans.

'About 2 per cent of the ancestry of Amazonians today comes from this Australasian lineage that's not present in the same way elsewhere in the Americas.' The researchers, whose work is published in the journal Nature, analysed the DNA from 21 Native American populations in Central and South America.