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 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 populations of Melanesia and Wallacea prior to the advent of Austronesian-speakers, and the dominant genetic traces of these populations in the current ethnic groups of these areas.
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.
The following indigenous peoples live within the modern borders of Indonesian and Papua New Guinea. Austronesian-speaking (AN) groups are given in italics.