Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Anthropological History


  1. Out of Africa Replacement Hypothesis

  2. The Regional Continuity Hypothesis

  3. Package of cultural Innovations

  4. A Complete Skull, Dmanisi, Georgia and Early Homo Evolutionary Biology

  5. Ancient Gene Flow Early Modern Humans to Eastern Neanderthals

  6. Archaic Humans

  7. Hominid Fossils from Dmanisi - Their Place Among Early Hominids

  8. Neanderthals had human DNA Suggesting Modern Humans Migrated from Africa Earlier than Previously Believed


Out of Africa Hypothesis

The field of human biology, specifically that of hominid evolution, is a complex and rapidly changing area. There are differing views on each question, but I have found the most clearly argued cases with Stephen Oppenheimer’s book, “Out of Eden”, from where the following extracts are taken.

The Beginning:

Genetic findings support the case that all non-Africans share one ancestral origin. Thus, the ancestors of aboriginal Australians, Europeans, Indians and Chinese all have the one date of exit from Africa. By looking at the mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes of anyone outside of Africa, their single branch on the “Out of Africa” family tree can be found.

Australian aboriginals are related to Europeans and share a common ancestor just after the exodus from Africa, to the Yemen over 70,000 years ago. Thereafter, they moved progressively around the coastline of the Indian Ocean, eventually island-hopping across Indonesia to Australia where, in complete isolation, they developed their own unique and complex artistic styles.


The earliest generally accepted archaeological evidence of modern human colonization outside Africa has, until recently been Australian. Previously the oldest evidence for the colonization of the Australian continent has indicated a date of around 40,000 years ago. However, the advent of a new dating method, known as luminescence dating of silica, has revealed even older dates.

In 1990, dates of between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago were reported for the first occupation of a rock shelter on the coast of Arnhem Land, in Northern Australia. Arnhem Land is directly opposite Timor, which is the nearest island of the Indonesian Archipelago, and thus the most likely casting off point for the first Australians.

An even earlier date of 62,000 years ago, has recently been published for the skeleton of an Anatomically Modern Human found at Lake Mungo, in the Willandra Lakes region of south-east Australia.


Most recent ‘Out of Africa’ syntheses argue for at least one northern exit out of Africa to Europe, and further to the rest of Asia within the past 50 000 years, while acknowledging the possibility of an earlier southern route to Australia.

The problems with the northern route for the ancestors of Australian Aboriginals is that if the exodus had left Africa any later than 115 000 years ago, there were significant barriers in place to restrict movement from the Levant to the rest of Asia. These included major mountain and desert barriers preventing travel north, eat or south from the Levant. To the north and east were the great Zagros-Taurus mountain ranges which combines with the Syrian and Arabian deserts to separate the Levant from Eastern Europe in the north and the Indian sub-continent in the South. Under normal glacial conditions, this was an impassable mountainous desert. There was no easy way around to the north because of the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus.

As in Marco Polo’s time the alternative overland route from the Eastern Mediterranean to Southeast Asia was to get to the Indian Ocean as soon as possible and then follow the coast round. To the south and east of the Levant, however, are the Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and the only option was thus to follow the Tigris Valley round from Turkey and down the western border of the Zagros Range to the Arabian Golf. But this route, through the fertile crescent, was also extreme desert outside interglacial periods and was therefore closed.

The practical impossibility of modern humans getting from the Levant or Egypt to Southeast Asia 55 000- 90 000 years ago means that a northern exodus from Africa during that period could have given rise only to Europeans and Levantines, not to Southeast Asians or Australians.

The Southern Route:

In order for the Southern route to become a viable option, several things needed to happen. The first was sea levels needed to drop. During an ice age, the sea level falls significantly, due to huge amounts of water being trapped in glaciers. The falling sea level allowed for humans from Africa to cross the mouth of the Red Sea, using rafts to island hop in some instances. Crossing from Africa, they could then move into India following the coastline. Continuing along the coast, early humans likely found their way down into Indonesia within 10 000 years. Low sea levels at this time allowed a dry walk from Aden to the tip of Java.

While recent archaeological finds have suggested human occupation dates as old as 62,000 years ago, sea levels between Timor and Australia were at their lowest some 3,000 years earlier. Thus it is more probable that the first humans crossed into Australia some 65 000 years ago. The original landing site would now be submerged beneath the sea, as it would have been on the continental shelf that was dry land about the time of the first arrivals.

WLH-50 and the complete replacement by out of Africa theory

The calvarium of WLH-50 has been used in a study to tes

t the recent African origin theory, that suggests the complete replacement of the archaic forms, known as Homo erectus, so that H. erectus did not contribute to the ancestry of modern Australasians. They compared data for WLH-50 and 3 potential contributors to the ancestry of WLH-50 (Ngandong, Late Pleistocene Africans, Levant hominids from Skhul and Qafzeh) concluding that the results unambiguously refute the complete replacement of these potential contributors to the ancestry of the Australasians, suggesting that the Ngandong hominids should be reclassified as Home sapiens, Hawks et al., (2000). (21)

Not all agree with Hawks et al. Bräuer, Collard and Stringer criticise the methods of Hawks et al., not accepting that their study disproves the Out of Africa hypothesis that requires the complete replacement of earlier populations.

In the re

cent BBC documentary, Human Journey, based on the Out of Africa hypothesis, the very African appearance of the Andaman Island people of the present, and the reconstruction of a skull from India to reveal an African appearance, is presented as evidence of the migration from Africa 70,000 years ago. Is it possible the African migrants passed from Africa, through Indonesia to Australia in the last 70,000 years, and by 60,000 years ago looked like Australian Aborigines, without mixing with populations that already looked similar to the ancestral Aborigines, as the earlier population of Indonesia did. And the sites that have been dated to 60,000 years are on the present day dry land, not on the continental shelf where the migrants would have landed when they arrived on the last leg of their island-hopping journey, presumably the landing would have occurred some time before 60,000 years ago. After they landed, did they live near the sea they knew for a while before spreading to the interior that is now the coast, or sprint inland to the sites that have now been dated, that at that time was populated with some very large and dangerous animals they weren't familiar with. They were also faced with a completely different potential food plants they had to learn about.

There is also the wide diversity of physical types, especially among the people from the earliest known sites. I would think that would be more consistent with non-homogeneous inheritance, rather than with a small group of ancestors that came from the same place and presumably looked at least a bit similar to each other.

The Eve theory

Origins - The Regional Continuity Hypothesis

Out of Africa vs Regional Continuity

An interactive map of sea levels around Sahul

Sources & Further reading

  1. Oppenheimer, S., 2004, Out of Eden: The Peopling of the World, Robinson Publishers.


  1. DNA traces Aboriginal Australian history
  2. Phillip J. Habgood & Natilie R. Franklin, The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul, Journal of Human Evolution, 55, 2008
  4. Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia
  5. The geometry of hobbits: Homo floresiensis and human evolution
  6. What Is the Hobbit?
  7. Homo floresiensis
  8. Hominins lived on Flores for nearly 1 million years before the "hobbit".
  9. Hominins on Flores, Indonesia, by 1 million years ago
  10. Meet X-woman - a possible new species of human
  11. The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of a an unknown hominin from southern Siberia
  12. Fossil finger points to new human species
  13. No Bones about it - Ancient DNA from Siberia Hints at Previously Unknown Human Relative
  14. Hominins on
  15. Why did human populations disperse from Africa ca. 60,000 years ago? A new model
  16. An Australasian test of the recent African origin theory using the WLH-50 calvarium
  17. Unknown mt DNA lineage found in 40,000 [year old] hominid Russia-Neanderthal connection
  18. Neanderthal Man
  19. Evolution-Out of Africa and the Eve Hypothesis (Chris Stringer)
  20. Discoverer of "Lucy" raises questions about Australopithecus sediba, the new human species from South Africa
  21. Possible causes and significance of cranial robusticity among Pleistocene-Early Holocene Australians, Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 36, Issue 4, April 2009, pages 980-990.
  22. How Hominids Adapted to Past Climate Change?
  23. Neanderthal symbolism-Evidence suggests a biological basis for symbolic thought
  24. Neanderthals not the only apes humans bred with
  25. Age of the Earliest Known Hominids in Java, Indonesia
  26. Annual rhythms that underlie phenology: biological time-keeping meets environmental change
Author: M. H.Monroe
Last Updated 06/03/2016

Genetic Evidence

Complex Evolutionary History of East Asians



Aboriginal Australia
Anthropological History
Aboriginal History
Aboriginal Occupation Sites-Tasmania
Aboriginal physical type
Archaeological Sites
Birrigai Shelter
Fire-Stick Farmers
Genetic Evidence
H. erectus near Australia
Cloggs Cave
The First Boat People
Evidence from Lake George
Regional Continuity Theory
Social Organisation
Trade - Macassan Traders
Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading