<link rel="stylesheet" href="//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto%3A300%2C400%2C500%2C700%7CRoboto+Slab%3A400%2C700">Aboriginal Australians result of earlier migration out of Africa

Humans originally evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago. However, as you may have noticed we didn’t stay there forever. It wasn’t long before we had spread across the entire world, making us the most wide-ranging primate ever. Suck it, all other monkeys. How, when, and why our ancestors undertook such a massive journey has been at topic that’s puzzled palaeoanthropologists for years. And now the situation seems to have got even more puzzling, with the revelation that Aboriginal Australians stem from a unique, earlier migration to all other non-Africans.

In most locations the arriving humans seem to have been part of the same migration. All non-Africans share a bit of Neanderthal DNA. This suggests that this migrating population had a rather kinky encounter with our evolutionary cousins early into their journey. This was then inherited by everyone else. And across Europe and the Middle East the first tools the arriving humans made are almost identical. Again, this suggests that they were all being made by the same migrating population, armed with the same technology and the same culture.

So what’s the evidence for this other, hidden migration?

The international team of researchers examined more than 2,000 skulls – including several prehistoric ones – from populations along the migration route. Using a battery of statistical analyses, they examined how closely related these skulls were. These results revealed that Aboriginal Australians and Melanesians seem to be part of a unique, isolate population. All the other skulls they examined are similar enough that they could come from the same migration.

The migration routes identified by this research. The dotted line and blue dots are the earlier migration

The migration routes identified by this research. The dotted line and blue dots are the earlier migration

Perhaps most interestingly, later populations on the route the early migration took don’t show much similarity with them. This suggests that the early migration didn’t stick around. Or maybe they were driven out by the later arrivals.

Speaking of later arrivals, how did they identify that the Australian migration was earlier than the other? Well, their data wasn’t quite robust enough to provide the exact dates. However, they do note that several “early” stone tools that appear to have been made by modern humans were found along the early route. Yet no actual modern humans were found with them. Personally, I’m always a bit suspicious of identifying specific species from stone tools alone (most of the time).

And of course, that isn’t the only issue with this research. How do they reconcile the fact that Australians also have the Neanderthal DNA? That would suggest they belong to the same population movement as the other groups with that DNA. Or maybe not. The researchers note that some groups on this early migration encountered (in the Biblical sense) the Densiovans. These archaic humans might have been the source of their archaic DNA.

And that’s really by big complaint with this research: it’s trying to infer things about genetics from stuff that isn’t genetics. Don’t get me wrong, this research is rigorous, interesting and far from untrue. But before we start rewriting the (pre)history books I think we need a tad bit more data.


Boyd and Silk, 2012. How Humans Evolved
Reyes-Centeno, H., Hubbe, M., Hanihara, T., Stringer, C., & Harvati, K. (2015). Testing modern human out-of-Africa dispersal models and implications for modern human origins. Journal of human evolution.
Rohling, E. J., Grant, K. M., Roberts, A. P., & Larrasoaña, J. C. (2013). Paleoclimate Variability in the Mediterranean and Red Sea Regions during the Last 500,000 Years. Current Anthropology, 54(S8), S183-S201.

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Jim Birch · 12th August 2015 at 12:14 am

What’s a “melenian”?

Google search says “About 135 results (0.32 seconds) Did you mean: Melanesians”

References are random and scattered; the only anthro reference is this page!

    Adam Benton · 12th August 2015 at 12:16 am

    I may have meant that,

Jim Birch · 12th August 2015 at 12:59 am

I would have thought that migration would be powered by food. Humans are able to exploit food resources that other species cannot, so going over the hill you would find breakfast just lying around waiting to be eaten. If you are the only species that can eg open oysters then the next bay along is going to be an absolute feast. In a fairly short time the resource has been exploited down to a natural production level or even to exhaustion, but there’s a great breakfast opportunity just a kilometer or two along the migration trail. Let’s go guys.

I can imagine a wave of healthy fuelled-up first exploiters hitting speeds of kilometres a year along coastlines and across prairies, with periodic pauses for natural obstacles that would only be traversed with new technology or the impetus that starvation provides. These groups would develop an ethos of flourishing by travelling, especially into virgin territory. Maybe that’s the allure of wilderness trekking? Obviously there would be more than a few prequels of “Into The Wild” in this process but, to misapply the cliché, it’s the winners that write prehistory.

What’s the official line on this picture?

Dwarf Elder · 24th September 2015 at 5:42 am

Aborigines appear to be a hybrid of Neanderthals and Homo Erectus.. Many Aborigines have similar brow ridges and skull structures as Neanderthals, Erectus, and other archaic hominids. Somewhere on their journey out of Africa, the Aborigines inherited the genetic trait of being able to grow an epic Dwarven beard like Indo-Europeans and the Ainu can.
For most races of men, growing a full beard is uncommon and most can only manage a Goatee or whiskers on their chin at best. Most full blooded orientals, native Americans, Pacific islanders and sub-Saharan Africans have no need to ever shave their face while the descendants of the Dwarves can grow a mane like a lion.
This is what Santa Claus looks like down under –

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