The main aim of the voyage is to find out where the ancestors of Polynesian culture originated but the Durham University researchers will also be examining the local wildlife. Dr Larson joined the expedition in the Southern Philippines on November 3, and Dr Dobney will join it in February with another researcher linked with the University, Prof Atholl Anderson, when it leaves the southern Solomon islands en-route into the Pacific.
Picture of one of the traditional Polynesian boats being used for the voyage.
They will be furthering their own research work along their way, taking hundreds of samples from animals such as dogs, cats, chickens and pigs to use in their ongoing investigations into the origin of these important farmyard animals which the ancient Polynesians carried with them into the remote Pacific.
Work by Drs Larson and Dobney - which probes the genetic make-up of domestic and commensal species linked with human migration - has gained international media attention. Recent findings have focused on the origins and dispersal of domestic chickens and pigs.
The trip, called "Lapita-Voyage", will be crewed by two Polynesians, two scientists, a cameraman and the initiators James Wharram, Hanneke Boon (catamaran-designers) and Klaus Hympendahl (author and organiser of the project).
At the end of the voyage the two double canoes will be presented to the inhabitants of the small Polynesian islands of Tikopia and Anuta, acknowledging the debt owed by Western yachtsmen to the Polynesian inspiration for their 'modern catamarans'.