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Australian Archaeology
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Zilch5Offline
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PostPosted: 22-10-2013 21:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

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'Asian Neanderthals' may have occupied Australia

NEANDERTHAL peoples' Asian cousins occupied the islands of our nearest neighbours and possibly Australia itself, scientists believe.

Writing today in the journal Science, Adelaide University archaeologist Alan Cooper argues that the Denisovans – Neanderthal-like relatives of ancient humans – crossed Wallace’s Line, one of the world’s most formidable marine barriers, more than 100,000 years ago.

Having achieved this feat, it would be “amazing” if they had not made what was then an easy crossing to Australia. “If you cross Wallace’s Line you’ve done all the hard work,” Professor Cooper told The Australian.

The Denisovans were unknown before a finger bone and some teeth were discovered in a Siberian cave in 2008. Scientists believe they outnumbered the Neanderthals and lived throughout Asia.

Traces of their DNA exist in modern humans, leading to the assumption that the two groups interbred in Asia. But Professor Cooper said genetic evidence of interbreeding had only been found in indigenous populations of New Guinea, Australia and nearby areas.

This suggested it had occurred on the Australian side of Wallace’s Line, a powerful marine current east of Borneo and Bali which marks a natural boundary between Eurasian and Australasian species.

Given that humans and their relatives originated in Africa, Denisovans would have had to find a way of crossing Wallace’s Line. Professor Cooper said most archaeologists would not have given Denisovans credit for using watercraft in the first place.

But they, like their Neanderthal cousins, had been underrated. “Neanderthal doesn’t mean a cave man with a big club and Raquel Welch. (They were) probably much more akin to modern humans than we’ve been thinking.”

While no Denisovan remains have been found so far in Australia – or anywhere outside Siberia’s Altai Mountains – Professor Cooper said such discoveries could be just around the corner. Australia’s heat and humidity are not ideal for preserving fossils, but the region has not been “done over” by archaeologists like Europe and the Middle East.

Professor Cooper highlighted Australian scientists’ discovery of the “hobbits” in Flores ten years ago. “It indicates how little we know and how much more there is to find.”


http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/asian-neanderthals-may-have-occupied-australia/story-e6frgcjx-1226741814927
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Zilch5Offline
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PostPosted: 15-01-2014 21:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

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The roo that could rewrite history

A tiny drawing of a kangaroo curled in the letters of a 16th century Portuguese manuscript could rewrite Australian history.

The document, acquired by Les Enluminures Gallery in New York, shows a carefully-drawn sketch of kangaroo (know as a ''canguru'' in Portuguese) nestled in its text and is dated between 1580 and 1620. It has led researchers to believe images of the marsupial were already being circulated by the time the Dutch ship Duyfken - long thought to have been the first European vessel to dock in Australia - landed in 1606.

The pocket-sized manuscript, known as a Processional, contains text and music for a liturgical procession and is inscribed with the name Caterina de Carvalho, believed to be a nun from Caldas da Rainha in western Portugal.

The European discovery of Australia has officially been credited to the Dutch voyage headed by Willem Janszoon in 1606, but historians have suggested the country may already have been explored by other Western Europeans.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/the-roo-that-could-rewrite-history-20140115-30vaw.html#ixzz2qVQcvyzO
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