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Repeated episodes of extended glaciation during the Pleistocene epoch resulted in decreases of sea levels by more than 100 metres in Australasia.People appear to have arrived by sea during a period of glaciation, when New Guinea and Tasmania were joined to the continent of Australia.It was the first time any human had managed to leave the Afro-Asian ecological system." The earliest evidence of humans in Australia is at least 65,000 years old.Migration took place during the closing stages of the Pleistocene, when sea levels were much lower than they are today.Despite great advances in the available scientific techniques for investigating the problem, answering the key question of how they became extinct has remained elusive.Indeed, the same questions as those asked in the 19th century by scientists, such as the British comparative anatomist Sir Richard Owen and the Prussian scientist and explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, remain: were people responsible for their demise or was it climate change?The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.
Last year, geneticists analyzing DNA from living Aborigines joined the fray, but they came up with a wide range of dates, from 50,000 to 70,000 years ago.
The map shows the probable extent of land and water at the time of the last glacial maximum and when the sea level was probably more than 150m lower than today; it illustrates the formidable sea obstacle that migrants would have faced.
Yuval Noah Harari has argued that "[t]he journey of the first humans to Australia is one of the most important events in history ...
Michael Westaway receives funding from the Australian Research Council.
This research was supported by the Three Tribal Groups of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area and staff of Mungo National Park and the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area.
This early date 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.