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Ancient skeleton linked to Polynesia

Members of Taiwan's Pingpu tribe. [Stuff NZ/Reuters]

A human skeleton formally buried almost 8000 years ago on a small strategic island off China's coast is creating excitement that it may represent a direct line to the world's youngest race - New Zealand's Maori and Polynesians.

Genetic evidence has long suggested Polynesians - including their youngest branch the Maori - derived from Taiwan's aboriginal people.

Now the link may be made in the skeleton found on 400 square metre Liang Island, part of Taiwan controlled Matsu islands, within shelling range of China's Fujian Province.

The skeleton was discovered by the Taiwanese military who were building a road on the unpopulated island.

Taiwan's Council for Cultural Affairs says more scientific investigation is need after a local archaeological team exhumed the remains, believed to be 7900 years old.

The bones are thought to have belonged to a male, around 167 centimetres tall, who was between 30 and 35 years of age at the time of his death.



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