Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

The First Settlers in Australia

The founding population of Australia is suggested by genetics to have comprised around 1,000 people, a figure that the author1 finds surprising and intriguing, as he suggests it is larger and  more focused than he would have expected. According to this genetic conclusion it would seem colonisation was a simultaneous event, and not the sporadic, incremental event over a long period of time, with the founding population seeming to comprise a single migration comprised of a number of separate events that were closely spaced. There appears to have been 5-10 women, so about 10-20 individuals in each landing party. There must have been either quite large boats or a large number of boats, at least 50 if there were about 20 people in each. Questions posed include why did they come, and why did they all come at once? How many began the journey if some were presumably lost at sea? What were they thinking and what did they expect to find when they made landfall?

A link is provided by the genetic evidence, directly or indirectly, between the catastrophic events that occurred at Mt Toba and the colonisation of Australia. The estimated antiquity of common maternal genetic ancestors of all Aboriginal people living at the present is similar to the date of the Mt Toba explosion, though the temporal window is wide, with Australia being colonised between 45,000-75,000 BP based on the genetic research. The primigenial conclusion being that the most recent common female ancestor of the Australian Aboriginals lived more 70,000 years ago. Were their ancestors already in Indonesia when the Toba catastrophe occurred? Or did they come later? Based on the available evidence either suggestion may be the correct one, though increasingly the indications are that they were already present in Indonesia. According to the author1 there is already some evidence of modern humans being in India and southeastern Asia more then 70,000 years ago, and genetic evidence of the first Australians being in Asia between 70,000-62,000 BP. If they were there and survived the eruption they may have migrated east, possibly continuing on to Australia. If they were not there, then others soon were.

Did the Denisovans Cross Wallace's Line?

Sources & Further reading

  1. Cane, Scott, 2013, First Footprints: The epic story of the first Australians, Allen & Unwin
Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 07/11/2013
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