In DepthArchaeology

The first Australians arrived early

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Science  21 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6348, pp. 238-239
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6348.238

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Humans first arrived in northern Australia about 65,000 years ago, according to a new excavation of the Madjedbebe rock shelter in Australia’s Arnhem Land. The new dates push back the earliest solid evidence for humans in Australia by 10,000 to 20,000 years and suggest that modern humans left Africa and reached Southeast Asia earlier than had been thought. The findings also may settle a long-standing debate about how early humans navigated at least 100 kilometers of ocean to reach Australia and hint at the timing of modern human interactions with other archaic humans. The early dates will force the field to “rethink fundamentally the whole issue of when our species started to colonize Asia,” says archaeologist Robin Dennell of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.