Re: origin of australian aborigines
28 Nov 1994 22:10:29 -0500
In article <CzyMEE.KK3@cc.umontreal.ca>, lettej@ERE.UMontreal.CA (Lette
:A few years ago, I read that there were 2 theories about the origin of
:the australian aborigines to explain their distinct features.
:Either they had been isolated from other humans and thus evolved
:separately after the australian continent came into existence OR they
:had a distinct genetic background meaning that they would be the only
:humans on the planet who are not homo sapiens sapiens, but a small
:terminal parallel branch (but by no means inferior) in the evolution
My understanding about the origins of Australian aboriginals is that they
arrived on the islands of Australia and New Zealand about 30,000 yrs ago.
They are genetically related to other groups found in the archipelagos off
of southeast Asia such as Polynesians (probably the closest relatives),
Indonesians, Melanesians, and so on. In terms of visible physical
features, they are similar to groups also found in Papua New Guinea. If
you look closely at people from all the groups mentioned, you will find
that they are not that unusual looking. All of these peoples began moving
onto the islands from the Southeast Asian mainland in countries like
Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
The general pattern of population of these islands was for a party
of several boats to head out to form a new community (due to ethnic
strife, overpopulation, etc.) These parties were made up of only a few
people who represented the specialized skills necessary to begin a new
self-sustaining community. When you take into consideration that the
population of any given island began from a remarkably small gene pool,
you can see that just one mutation in, say, skin tone or hair texture
could give rise to a huge population bearing those same traits. This
would account for certain physical characteristics that make the
Australian natives stand out from their neighbors.
One last interesting fact about the Australians is that they brought
dogs with them to the island. These dogs were domesticated relatives of
the Asian Wolf and came with the first wave of inhabitants at 30,000 yrs
ago. This predates the earliest known domestication of the dog (or any
animal) found anywhere else in the world by almost 15,000 yrs. At some
point, however, they ceased using these animals and they returned to a
ferrel state. Unrelated, but kind of interesting anyway.
By the way, it sounds like the debate you are remembering has to do with
the rise of modern Homo Sapiens Sapiens from Homo Sapiens Neandretalis.
The confusion basically has to do with whether modern humans originated in
Africa and migrated out (as the Neadrathals did) and replaced their larger
brained predecessors around the globe or whether they arose independently
in regions throughout the world from Neadrathal populations. There is
ample evidence to support both sides and much of it comes from East Asia
and the areas around Australia.
Did I answer your question?