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Rock shelter used by speedy early Australians   BBC - November 3, 2016

The speed at which the first Aboriginal settlers spread across Australia has been underlined by the discovery of an ancient rock shelter north of Adelaide. The rock fissure in the Flinders Ranges contains tools and other artifacts that date back to around 49,000 years ago. That means Aboriginal people must have colonized large parts of the continent within a few millennia of their arrival. Dating of the sediments and objects in the cave, which include not just tools, but animal bones, charcoal, ash, egg shells and plant material, reveal that humans were using the site in sporadic fashion over thousands of years. The research team sees periods of frequent use interspersed with what may have been times of abandonment. But what was left on the ground is certainly a boon now to those trying to piece together the chronology and scope of Aboriginal settlement, which likely started in the northwest of the continent more than 50,000 years ago.




Indigenous Australians most ancient civilization on Earth, extensive DNA study confirms   Telegraph - September 23, 2016

Scientists used the genetic traces of the mysterious early humans that are left in the DNA of modern populations in Papua New Guinea and Australia to reconstruct their journey from Africa around 72,000 years ago. Experts disagree on whether present-day non-African people are descended from explorers who left Africa in a single exodus or a series of distinct waves of traveling migrants. The new study supports the single migration hypothesis. It indicates that Australian aboriginal and Papuan people both originated from the same out-of Africa migration event some 72,000 years ago, along with ancestors of all other non-African populations alive today. Tracing the Papuan and Australian groups' progress showed that around 50,000 years ago they reached Sahul - a prehistoric supercontinent that once united New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania before they were separated by rising sea levels.




Australia Is Drifting So Fast GPS Can't Keep Up   National Geographic - September 23, 2016
Australia is not quite where you think it is. The continent has shifted by 4.9 feet since the last adjustment was made to GPS coordinates in 1994, reports the New York Times. All of the EarthÕs continents float on tectonic plates, which glide slowly over a plastic-like layer of the upper mantle. And the plate that Australia sits on has been moving relatively fast, about 2.7 inches a year (northward and with a slight clockwise rotation).




Underground formations reveal wet past of Australia's Nullarbor Plain   PhysOrg - February 9, 2016

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Australia has found evidence that suggests that a desert region in Australia experienced a relatively short burst of wetter weather approximately five million years ago. Their study of stalagmites and stalactites in caves in the area and why they believe what they found might give a hint of what the future holds for Australia.




Looking to the Stars of Australian Aboriginal Astronomy   Ancient Origins - December 30, 2015
Astronomy played an important role in many ancient societies. Through this natural science, the ancients were able to make calendars, navigate during the night, and even explore the nature of the universe through mythology and philosophy. Some civilizations well-known for their astronomical developments include the Babylonians, the ancient Egyptians, and the ancient Greeks. The astronomy of many other cultures, however, has been side-lined, as a result of the prevailing Euro-centric view of astronomy, and civilization, in general. One of these is the astronomy of the Australian Aboriginal people, considered by some to be the oldest in the world.




Revealed: how Indigenous Australian storytelling accurately records sea level rises 7,000 years ago   The Guardian - September 18, 2015

Indigenous stories of dramatic sea level rises across Australia date back more than 7,000 years in a continuous oral tradition without parallel anywhere in the world, according to new research. 21 Indigenous stories from across the continent faithfully record events between 18,000 and 7000 years ago, when the sea rose 120m.




Aboriginal legends reveal ancient secrets to science   BBC - May 19, 2015
Scientists are beginning to tap into a wellspring of knowledge buried in the ancient stories of Australia's Aboriginal peoples. But the loss of indigenous languages could mean it is too late to learn from them. The Luritja people, native to the remote deserts of central Australia, once told stories about a fire devil coming down from the Sun, crashing into Earth and killing everything in the vicinity. The local people feared if they strayed too close to this land they might reignite some otherworldly creature. The legend describes the crash landing of a meteor in Australia's Central Desert about 4,700 years ago, says University of New South Wales (UNSW) astrophysicist Duane Hamacher. It would have been a dramatic and fiery event, with the meteor blazing across the sky. As it broke apart, large fragments of metal-rich rock would have crashed to Earth with explosive force, creating a dozen giant craters.




'Largest ever asteroid impact' found in Australia   BBC - March 24, 2015

The 400-kilometre (250-mile) wide area is buried deep in the earth's crust and consists of two separate impact scars. The team behind the discovery, from the Australian National University (ANU), said the asteroid broke into two before it hit, with each fragment more than 10km across. The impact is thought to have occurred at least 300 million years ago. The surface crater has long since disappeared from central Australia's Warburton Basin but geophysical modeling below the surface found evidence of two massive impacts.




Ancient Sea Rise Tale Told Accurately for 10,000 Years   Scientific American - January 26, 2015
Without using written languages, Australian tribes passed memories of life before, and during, post-glacial shoreline inundations through hundreds of generations as high-fidelity oral history. Some tribes can still point to islands that no longer exist - and provide their original names. That's the conclusion of linguists and a geographer, who have together identified 18 Aboriginal stories - many of which were transcribed by early settlers before the tribes that told them succumbed to murderous and disease-spreading immigrants from afar - that they say accurately described geographical features that predated the last post-ice age rising of the seas.




Scientists uncover "God's bathtub"   Yahoo - June 5, 2013

Blue Lake -- Imagine a lake that's never been affected by climate change or any other man-made influences. Australian scientists say they have found just that - a remote lake whose crystal-clear waters seem to be in the same chemical state as they were about 7,500 years ago. Several other nearby former lakes have dried up over the past 40 years due to climate change. The lake's water has remained unchanged because its waters drain into a nearby swamp and are replaced by an aquifer every 35 days or so.




Original Australians numbered 1,000-3,000, study finds   PhysOrg - April 23, 2013

This undated University of Southern Queensland photo shows a 28,000-year-old charcoal rock art fragment excavated from Arnhem land in Australia's Northern Territory. Australia was first settled by between 1,000 and 3,000 humans around 50,000 years ago, but the population crashed during the Ice Age before recovering to a peak of some 1.2 million people around five centuries ago, a study said.




Did Mega-Drought Kill Ancient Aboriginal Culture?   Live Science - January 10, 2013

A 1,500-year drought in Australia may have led to the demise of an ancient aboriginal culture, a new study suggests. The results, published Nov. 28 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, show that geological traces of a mega-drought in the northwest Kimberley region of Western Australia coincide with a gap and transition in the region's rock art style. The finding suggests that the people who lived prior to the drought, called the Gwion, either left the region or dramatically altered their culture as a result of the drought, and a new culture called the Wanjinda eventually took its place.'




Ancient migration: Genes link Australia with India   BBC - January 15, 2013
Australia experienced a wave of migration from India about 4,000 years ago, a genetic study suggests. It was thought the continent had been largely isolated after the first humans arrived about 40,000 years ago until the Europeans moved in in the 1800s.




Gene flow from India to Australia about 4,000 years ago   PhysOrg - January 14, 2013
Long before Europeans settled in Australia humans had migrated from the Indian subcontinent to Australia and mixed with Australian aborigines.




Secret of Dingo's Down-Under Origin Revealed   Live Science - January 14, 2013
Indians migrating to Australia more than 4,000 years ago may have introduced dingoes to the island continent, along with novel stone tools and new ways to remove toxins from edible plants, researchers say. Australia was thought to have remained largely isolated from the rest of the world between its initial colonization about 40,000 years ago by the ancestors of aboriginal Australians and the arrival of Europeans in the late 1800s.




Archaeologist finds oldest rock art in Australia   PhysOrg - June 18, 2012
An archaeologist says he found the oldest piece of rock art in Australia and one of the oldest in the world: an Aboriginal work created 28,000 years ago in an Outback cave.




Strong 6.1 earthquake hits South Australia's Far North   News.com.au - March 23, 2012
The earthquake's epicentre was recorded at shallow depth near Ernabella, 415km north west of Coober Pedy and about 320km south west of Alice Springs, just before 8pm. Geoscience Australia reported the quake could have been felt by people up to 500km away and damage experienced within a 40km radius of the epicentre. Geoscience Australia seismologist David Jepsen said the quake was the biggest in Australia in 15 years.




Lock of hair pins down early migration of Aborigines   BBC - September 22, 2011
A lock of hair has helped scientists to piece together the genome of Australian Aborigines and rewrite the history of human dispersal around the world. DNA from the hair demonstrates that indigenous Aboriginal Australians were the first to separate from other modern humans, around 70,000 years ago. This challenges current theories of a single phase of dispersal from Africa.




Ancient rock art's colors come from microbes   BBC - December 28, 2010
A particular type of ancient rock art in Western Australia maintains its vivid colors because it is alive, researchers have found. While some rock art fades in hundreds of years, the "Bradshaw art" remains colorful after at least 40,000 years. Jack Pettigrew of the University of Queensland in Australia has shown that the paintings have been colonized by colorful bacteria and fungi. These "biofilms" may explain previous difficulties in dating such rock art.




Australia's earliest contact rock art discovered   PhysOrg - July 24, 2010

Researchers have discovered evidence of Southeast Asian sailing vessels visiting Australia in the mid-1600s -- the oldest contact rock art in Australia. Rock engravings from the Copper Age found all over Europe in remote, hidden locations, indicate the artwork was more than mere images, researchers from Cambridge University and Sankt Poelten's university of applied sciences (FH) in Austria believe.




Prehistoric man enjoyed a primitive version of cinema   PhysOrg - June 29, 2010

The ancient Aboriginal rock carving known as 'Climbing Man' is shown in this photo taken on the Burrup Peninsula in Australia in 2008.




Australian archaeologists uncover 40,000-year-old site   PhysOrg - March 10, 2010

Australian archaeologists have uncovered what they believe to be the world's southernmost site of early human life, a 40,000-year-old tribal meeting ground, an Aboriginal leader said Wednesday.




Early Aussie Tattoos Match Rock Art Discovery - June 2, 2008


Body art was all the rage in early Australia, as it was in many other parts of the ancient world, and now a new study reports that elaborate and distinctive designs on the skin of indigenous Aussies repeated characters and motifs found on rock art and all sorts of portable objects, ranging from toys to pipes. The study not only illustrates the link between body art, such as tattoos and intentional scarring, with cultural identity, but it also suggests that study of this imagery may help to unravel mysteries about where certain groups traveled in the past, what their values and rituals were, and how they related to other cultures.




  Dust Turns Sydney Red   National Geographic - September 24, 2009




Electrical Storm Over Sydney Harbour (Photos) March 4, 2007




Ancient human footprints found in Australia MSNBC - July 28, 2006

Researchers believe prints were made approximately 20,000 years ago




Australian 'Nessie' fossils found BBC - July 27, 2006


Australia was once home to ancient reptiles that swam in huge icy lakes, fossil evidence suggests. The large, carnivorous reptiles lived 115 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs, when much of the continent was covered in water. Fossils of two new species of plesiosaur were discovered near Coober Pedy in South Australia. Plesiosaurs, famed for their long necks, are said to resemble Scotland's mythical Loch Ness monster.




Weird Australia Rocks Are Earliest Signs of Life, Study Says National Geographic - June 8, 2006

Weird cone- and egg-carton-shaped formations in Western Australia are almost certainly among the earliest evidence of life on Earth, according to a new study. The 3.43-billion-year-old Strelley Pool Chert formations, called stromatolites, are sediment structures, not fossilized life forms. But their unusual features have inspired scientists to debate their origin.




Climate wiped out mega-marsupials BBC - May 31, 2005
It is unlikely humans exterminated in a short killing spree the immense marsupial Diprotodon and other huge beasts that once roamed Australia. Two new studies reject the theory that humans moving on to the continent more than 42,000 years ago took out its megafauna in a 1,000-year "blitzkrieg". The studies suggest instead a more complex pattern to the extinctions. Their authors say humans certainly had a role but it was not as important as the period's climate changes.




Extinct Australian "Lion" National Geographic - March 2004
Two million years ago bizarre creatures roamed the Australian continent - the flesh-eating giant rat-kangaroo, the thunder bird, the marsupial wolf, and a giant monitor lizard. But these animals have never taken center stage in the public's imagination or even the scientific community like the large prehistoric creatures of other continents - in part, because a poor fossil record revealed few specimens that looked either large or ferocious.




1.8 Million-Year-Old Hominid Jaw Found National Geographic - February 2003


Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge has yielded an impressive pile of fossilized bones and stone tools that may reshuffle the evolutionary tree of the early hominids and shed light on the behavior of some of human kind's earliest ancestors. The gorge is most noted for the abundant fossil discoveries of esteemed anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey from 1959 to 1976 which helped shape modern understanding of human origins.




Australia unearths fossilized giants BBC - July 30, 2002





The marsupial lion was Australia's largest carnivorous mammal. A treasure trove of fossilized bones of prehistoric marsupial lions, giant kangaroos and a wombat the size of a small car has been unearthed in caves on the Nullarbor Plain.




Aborigines Were the First Americans BBC - August 27, 1999 - BBC


The first Americans were descended from Australian aborigines, according to evidence in a new BBC documentary. The programme, Ancient Voices, shows that the dimensions of prehistoric skulls found in Brazil match those of the aboriginal peoples of Australia and Melanesia. Other evidence suggests that these first Americans were later massacred by invaders from Asia. Until now, native Americans were believed to have descended from Asian ancestors who arrived over a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska and then migrated across the whole of north and south America. The land bridge was formed 11,000 years ago during the ice age, when sea level dropped.




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