Thirty Thousand Years of Human Colonization in Tasmania: New Pleistocene Dates

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Science  31 Mar 1989:
Vol. 243, Issue 4899, pp. 1706-1708
DOI: 10.1126/science.243.4899.1706


Basal dates of 30,420 years before present (BP) from a limestone cave in the Florentine River valley and 30,840 BP from a sandstone rockshelter in the Shannon River valley on the edge of the central Tasmanian highlands indicate colonization of Tasmania 8,000 years earlier than previously thought. These data indicate that people arrived before the Bassian Bridge was exposed about 23,000 years ago and support evidence that Tasmania and Australia may have been connected intermittently during the past 50,000 years. The dates support earlier suggestions that the Tasmanian inland was an important focus for systematic occupation and exploitation by human groups and dispel a belief that the Aboriginal economy 30,000 years ago was based on littoral, lacustral, and riverine resources. The absence of megafauna at both sites points to their extinction by 30,000 years ago in Tasmania. The people inhabiting Tasmania at this time, together with those at Monte Verde in Chile, were the most southerly humans on Earth.

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