New Delhi has set up a three-mile exclusion zone around the island to protect its inhabitants, known as the Sentinelese, who through violent seclusion have remained possibly the most genuinely isolated peoples in the world, likely for thousands of years. 

Using DNA from the surrounding tribes and the unique isolation of the Sentinelese language, we suspect that the Sentinelese’s singular genetic lineage could go back as far as 60,000 years. That would make them perhaps some of the most direct and uniquely isolated descendants of the first humans to leave Africa that have ever been located. Any geneticist would give an eyetooth for a chance to look at Sentinelese DNA to better understand the history of the human race. Not to mention the fact that the Sentinelese survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami somehow, which devastated the surrounding islands and wiped out much of their own terrain. They remained unscathed, hiding on higher ground as if they knew the storm was coming, suggesting they retain esoteric knowledge of the weather and environment that we could possibly learn from. All of this is worth protecting and preserving, even if these safeguards ironically mean we will not have access to it as scholars. But if and when the Sentinelese choose to accept contact, then the world at large will surely benefit culturally and scientifically from their previous isolation.

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