Re: origin of australian aborigines

Marion Diamond (
30 Nov 1994 03:53:39 GMT

In <3be635$> (Opiowade) writes:

[stuff deleted]

> 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.

This is not so. There is apparently no evidence for dogs (i.e. dingoes)
in Australia before about 5000 BCE. They are certainly similar to some
other Asian dogs - such as the ones in Northern Thailand - but it is by
no means clear how they got here. They have been domesticated by
Aborigines, we assume, ever since they arrived in Australia, and still
are. They are often used, not for hunting, as other domestic dogs
generally are, but purely as pets, and to keep people warm when sleeping
together around a campfire. (I believe, but I won't vouch for it, that
in some parts of the cold inland, a cold night is referred to as a
'five-dog night') There are, of course, many dingoes which are now wild,
undomesticated animals who have found their own place in the Australian
ecology, and might therefore be called 'feral'. One other point is that
they never made it across Bass Strait to Tasmania, and it was only in
Tasmania that the Thylacine, or 'Tasmanian Tiger', survived (until some
time int he 1930s, when the last one died). Presumably on the mainland,
the dingoes outcompeted them, but only within the last few thousand years.

Marion Diamond, History Department
University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 4072
Ph: 61 7 365 6334; Fax:61 7 365 6266;