Environment New insights into how Australia’s first peoples populated the continent

New insights into how Australia’s first peoples populated the continent

Ever wondered how Australia’s first inhabitants made their way across this arid continent?

James Cook University scientists have shed new light on the paths that our first peoples took to migrate across the land mass of Australia more than 47,000 years ago.

JCU’s Professor Michael Bird, Professor Sean Ulm and Dr Damien O’Grady assessed the position and permanency of water bodies as a possible indicator of the routes that early human migration took.

“Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth and there is debate over when and which route it was colonised by its earliest people,” said Professor Bird.

Aboriginal people initially arrived in Australia by 47,000 years ago, but it may have been as early as 50,000 to 55,000 years ago.

“We thought the distribution of water sources, particularly in the dry interior, may have played an important role in the rapid human colonisation of the continent.”

The scientists mapped 112,786 permanent water bodies. They found high degrees of connectivity during wet periods and a high density of water sources stretching from northern Australia, through semi-arid and arid regions, to south-eastern Australia and into the continent’s arid centre.

Results have been reported this week in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

You can read more about their research here. [Story credit: JCU newsroom]

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