WILLANDRA LAKES HOMINID 50
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Some discoveries complicate the puzzle of the past; others help to clarify the picture. Fortunately, Willandra Lakes hominid 50 (plate 9), is one of the latter, at last providing a feasible ancestor for the Kow Swamp population.
Willandra Lakes hominid 50 (WLH 50) was the fiftieth set of human remains found in the Willandra region - and the most significant. In 1980 the skull and some arm, hand and foot bones were found on the surface near Lake Gampung, which lies close to Mungo. The bones may have eroded out of the Mungo sediments, but they were not in situ, and it is uncertain to which sedimentary layer they belong. Thorne, whose publication of the remains is still eagerly awaited, has described WLH 50 as 'much more robust and archaic than any Australian hominid found previously'.
There are two extraordinary things about WLH 50: its condition and its form. Its condition is unique: all the normal phosphate in the bone has been replaced by silicates, in the same way that things become opalised, which suggests great antiquity. And WLH 50 is massive: he is so robust, he makes Kow Swamp man look gracile! The cranium is extremely wide and approximately 210 millimetres long. The cranial vault bone averages 15 millimetres thick. Massive brow ridges form a continuous torus above the eyes, and the forehead is flat and receding. The back of the skull shows even more archaic characteristics, with substantial cranial buttressing. The neck muscle area is huge, the skull is extremely wide, the greatest width occurs very low in back view, and the difference between the width above and below the ears is much greater than in any modern people. Yet WLH 50's brain was extremely large; the estimated endocranial volue is 1540 millilitres, well above the average 1300 for modern skulls. The skull is flask-shaped, like the Kow Swamp skulls, in bird's eye view, but all the rugged features of Kow Swamp are much more pronounced in WLH 50. Unfortunately the face, jaw and teeth of WLH 50 have not survived, but enough is left of the rest of his skeleton to indicate that his body was equally massive; his elbow bone, for instance, is enormous.
The age of WLH 50 has been estimated as at least 35 000 BP, and more probably in excess of 40 000 to 50 000 years by John Head of the Radiocarbon Dating Research Unit of the Australian National University. Although very little bone material survives, an electron spin resonance (ESR) date of 29 000 +- 5000 BP was obtained, but this was regarded as a minimum age. More recently, WLH 50's age was determined by the OSL method at about 25 000 years, an age accepted by Thorne. In spite of the very uncertain dating, the significance of WLH 50 is immense. Firstly, Thorne maintains that robust WLH 50 could not possibly be descended from the gracile type of WLH 1. It is not only the size and shape of the skulls that differ, the most striking difference is in the thickness of the bone; the skull of WLH 50 is some 15-19 millimetres thick, that of WLH 1 only 2 millimetres. The contrast is as great as that between earthenware and bone china, or orange peel and eggshell.
The whole of the cranial vault of WLH 50 is exceptionally thick, ranging from 15 to 1`9 millimetres. Many modern Australian male skulls have thickening somewhere on the vault, but this is usually confined to one point and rarely exceeds 11 millimetres. Likewise, certain Willandra hominids and other later Pleistocene Australian populations almost equal the thickness of WLH 50 at one or other point on the vaults are not uniformly thick like that of WLH 50. Whilst very thick cranial walls are usually associated with archaic hominids of great antiquity, the structure of the vault walls in WLH 50 is quite different from early skulls in Java or China, which all also lack both the degree and uniformity of thickening in WLH 50. The massive thickening and different cranial construction (involving the replacement of external and internal tabular bone with canellous or diploeic tissue) of WLH 50 therefore indicates something different, which Webb convincingly argues was a pathological condition, probably some form of genetic blood disorder. Webb goes on to propose that 'this condition was brought to greater Australia as part of the genetic baggage of migrations from areas such as Indonesia, there it played an important adaptive role in helping people cope with malaria'. It might have disappeared quite early from the Australian gene pool, perhaps within a few thousand years, in vies of Australia's minimal population before 30 000 BP and lack of endemic malaria. Indeed, 'the fact that WLH 50 had the condition could mean that he is amongst Australia's earliest inhabitants'. The Indonesian archipelago is almost certain to have supported endemic malaria for an extremely long time, and Indonesia is the most likely place of origin of the first humans to arrive in Australia.
The general robusticity of WLH 50, with his large brow ridge and 'substantial cranial buttressing', is not disputed, and if his unique cranial thickening is in fact due to an adaptation to cope with malaria, the case for him as one of the first Australians is strong.
THE 135 WILLANDRA LAKES HOMINIDS
In 1989 Webb published an invaluable catalogue of the Willandra Lakes hominids. The remains of 135 individuals had been found in the region at that time, and all but five of these are described by Webb. (WLH 1,2,3 and 50 are being described by Thorne, and the 1986 discovery of WLH 135 is an unburnt burial in the Mungo lunette, which has been left in situ at Aboriginal request.) These ancient human remains are of international significance, and were a central feature of the successful nomination of the Willandra Lakes as a World Heritage Area in 1981. As stated by the Australian Heritage commission in the nomination: "The Willandra Lakes system stands in the same relation to the global documentation of the culture of early Homo sapiens as the Olduvai Gorge relates to hominid origins.
The skeletal remains described by Webb were all fragmentary, sometimes highly mineralised, surface finds, mainly collected between 1974 and 1982. Nothing has been added to the collection since then, and it has now been returned to the Willandra region to be stored in an Aboriginal Keeping Place. whilst Aboriginal people have strong concerns about the study and care of their ancestors' remains, this collection and analysis was justified in that it preserved and put on record human remains uncovered by erosion, which otherwise would probably have been destroyed or souvenired by tourists visiting the newly established Mungo National Park. However, archaeological research in the region has now virtually ceased in accordance with current Aboriginal wishes. This is the oldest corpus of human remains so far discovered in Australia, estimated to span the vast time period from about 15 000 to 40 000 or more years ago. although accurate dating of surface finds is usually impossible, the vast majority of the remains were found on lunettes, and Webb is confident that, with few exceptions, all individuals in the collection predate the end of lunette formation around 15 000 BP, spanning the preceding 20 000 or so years. This conclusion is based on a small number of in situ finds, radiocarbon AMS dates for five samples of burnt bone from different individuals (which gave estimated ages of between 16 500 and 25 300 BP), the bones' location and condition of fragmentation and erosion, and the degree of staining, mineralisation and carbonate encrustation.
This Willandra collection, even with its fragmentary nature and time span of as much as 20 000 years, is the oldest material in the Australian fossil record, and Webb's painstaking study throws much important light on the biological origins of the continent's first inhabitants, particularly regarding the homegeneity-heterogeneity debate. His conclusions are:
The main results achieved ... give support for the existence of an extraordinarily gracile morphology among Pleistocene people inhabiting the area and provide evidence for biological and cultural complexity in the society. At least nine gracile individuals have been identified in the skeletal collection under review, to add to the previous two (WLH 1 and 3), and it is suggested that they represent a people of overall small body proportions. At the same time it has also been established that there were people living in the Willandra region as robust and in some cases more robust than those in other end-Pleistocene populations.
Two 'sharply contrasting morphologies' are identified - the robust, archaic-looking crania such as WLH 18, 19, 45 and 69, and more delicate gracile individuals such as WLH 1, 3 and at least nine others. The gracile group incorporate distinctive features such as little or no development of brow ridges, thin cranial vaults, generally oval and fully expanded skulls, small delicately constructed mandibles, lightly built musculature and small stature. Webb stresses that all features of a cranium or skeleton must be compared, and the post-cranial bones, when present, must not be ignored.
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It is, of course, necessary to differentiate between male and female skeletons when making comparisons. Gender can usually be determined from differences in the pelvic bones, the femur, or thigh bone, and from the greater size, ruggedness and muscle marking of the male skull. However, sexing of the Willandra collection was very difficult, because of its generally poor and fragmentary condition. Moreover, sexing criteria developed on Holocene skeletal collections may not be completely applicable to very different Pleistocene populations. For example, on the standard (Larnach and Freedman) suite of cranial features used by Webb and others to sex skulls, the gracile male WLH 3 would, in the absence of a pelvis, have been pronounced female.
These further data on the gracility and robusticity of the Willandra hominids clearly demonstrate that WLH 1 is not unique, nor does she occupy a position at the extreme end of a single range of variation. The vault thickness of the gracile individuals is equal or less than that of modern populations, including Europeans and strongly contrasts with the robust form. The degree of gracility of Willandra females such as WLH 11 and 68 is not matched by any female crania from the robust populations of Coobool Creek or Kow Swamp. Webb's identifications of gender, however, have been criticised by Colin Pardoe, who believes that Webb's 'robusticity and gracility are nothing more than sex-based attributes of larger male size'. Whilst agreeing that sexual dimorphism (larger size of males) seems to have led to a tendency to identify fragmentary female remains as gracile and male remains as robust, Webb did reveal a vast difference in male morphology within the series, and the differences between the gracile group of WLH 1 to 3 and the robust group of WLH 50 remain to be explained.
Bulbeck has now shown that Pardoe's comment was based on incorrect figures. Wbb's actual identifications were 7 robust males, 2 robust females, 3 gracile males and 7 gracile females. Bulbeck comments, 'Arguably there is still some sort of bias on Webb'ws part to recognising male "robusts" and female "graciles", but not nearly as marked as in Pardoe's Table 1'. In his analysis Bullbeck found 'unusually large and unusually small crania (by standards of later Australian Aboriginals) in both sexes'. Those analysed by Bulbeck were WLH 19, 50, 69, 101, 45, 100, 3, 67, 1 and 24, which were selected because of their relative completeness and 'had no conceivable bias towards male "robusts" and female "graciles". Importantly, he concludes, 'I confirm Webb's finding that specimens in both sexes appear to be too diverse to be assigned to a single population'.
With regard to burial practices, ten individuals identified as having been cremated (found on lakes Mungo and Garnpung) display a gracile morphology, but one, an isolated find on Lake Leaghur, is definitely robust and male (WLH 28). Both men and women were cremated; of the ten gracile individuals cremated, four are females, one possibly male (the fragmentary WLH 2) and the sex of the rest is unclear. Inhumation was also practised (the gracile male, WLH 3, described in Life and Death at Lake Mungo), and Webb also identified evidence of another mortuary practice, bone-smashing without cremation. another ritual which may have been practised is deliberate tooth avulsion as described in Australoids.
The great morphological variability among Pleistocene Australians has been convincingly demonstrated by Phillip Habgood in a major multivariate statistical analysis of both Australian and Asian skeletal material. He suggests that the morphological variation displayed by the Late Pleistocene human skeletal material developed as a result of mutation, genetic selection and drift (the accidental loss of lineages) as the first migrants moved out into a diversity of environments and climates. Habgood concludes:
All of the early Australian fossils fall within a morphological continuum ranging from the gracile to the more robust crania. Within this great morphological variation the crania do display an 'Australianness' which is unique to them. That is, the 'gracile' and 'robust' groups are more similar to each other, overall, than they are to any other anatomically modern Homo sapiens crania from around the world.
Australian Aborigines are today amongst the world's most physically varying population, and it now seems that this variability was even greater in the past. Various theories have been proposed to explain the differing physical traits noticed by early European explorers and visitors.
In particular, a theory of three Pleistocene migrations by Oceanic Negritos, Murrayians and Carpentarians was espoused by Joseph Birdsell and Norman Tindale. This three-waves-of-colonists theory provides a convenient, but incorrect, explanation for differences observed in historic times between Aborigines of the north, the Murray Valley and Tasmania. The Tasmanians are taken to have been representatives of Oceanic Negritos, largely on account of their small stature and spirally curled hair. Other remnants of the Oceanic Negritos were said to be twelve Aboriginal tribes living in the rainforests of northeastern Queensland. However, analysis of recent skeletal material from northern Queensland did not produce any evidence of a Negritic component among the rainforest Aborigines. Moreover, recent genetic studies have shown that pygmy groups are not racially distinct, but simply represent local modification in physique in relation to their neighbours.
In Tasmania, skeletal remains (from King Island, West Point Midden and Mount Cameron West) show no differences between prehistoric Tasmanian aborigines and contemporary mainlanders. It has also now become clear that Tasmania was populated in the Pleistocene by means of the land bridge that joined the island to the mainland. This bridge was drowned some 10 000 years ago by the post-glacial rise in the sea level. The differences between Tasmanian and mainland Aborigines observed in historic times are now considered to result from genetic change in a small, isolated population. There is no evidence to support the identification of a Negrito element in Australia. Similarly, Birdsell's third type, the Carpentarians, is now thought to be the result of recent contact between Aborigines and non-Aborigines along the northern coast of Australia. There has, therefore, been a general rejection of the three-wave theory.
Physical anthropologists seem to agree on almost nothing except that Aborigines belong to Homo sapiens, and that there is great morphological variability in the Pleistocene population. Whilst robusticity characterises the basic contemporary Aboriginal skeletal form, the remarkable Pleistocene cranial variation still remains to be explained, as does the more 'archaic' appearance of some early Australian Home sapiens.
The search for human origins involves referral to both the fossil hominid data and genetic evidence, particularly developments in the use of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the carrier of the genetic code of life. The human species shows great variation in form, but remarkably low overall genetic variation, even between geographically distant human populations.
Genetic differences between different Aboriginal groups and between Australian Aborigines and overseas peoples have been examined by a number of researchers. The genetic traits compared include blood groups, hair form and colour, and finger and palm print patterns (dermatoglyphs). Aboriginal blood group genes were recorded and studied for many years by Roy Simmons and his colleagues of the commonwealth Serum laboratories. His conclusions were that Australian Aborigines are unique in certain genetic characteristics, such as the general lack of blood groups B and A, but research had been unable to provide any clues as to the biological origin of the first Australians. Further research has revealed no genetic connections between Australian Aborigines and distant groups such as the Veddoid populations of India or Sri Lanka, or the Ainu of northern Japan.
The problem is that most of the differences - such as hair form, blood groups and colouring - that distinguish between living human populations are not discernible on skeletons. However, over the last twenty years an exciting new approach has been used in the study of the origin of humans. This is molecular biology - the study of the molecules of life from living species. Two species descended from a common ancestor start out with identical DNA. As the generations go by, random changes accumulate. The longer two species have been separated, the greater the difference in their DNA. These differences are expressed as a percentage rate, for example haemoglobin might change 1 per cent after 6 million years. Understanding this process has led to the establishment of a 'molecular clock', which ticks off the years that elapse after two species have separated. The chronological framework is provided by the conventional dating techniques of fossils, such as radiocarbon dating o potassium argon 'calendars'. For example, it is well established that the marsupials and mammals split between 125 and 100 million years ago. One fossil date is all that is needed to set the clock. This then provides a ratio of the time elapsed since various species shared a common ancestor, because DNA accumulates mutations at a relatively slow rate, and the same molecule changes at the same rate in all species. The history of our own species is encoded in the DNA in each of us. The genetic material of different human racial groups has been studied, and an evolutionary tree constructed from analysis of blood proteins and DNA in the chromosomes.
A further development has been the study of mitochondrial DNA, which is outside rather than inside the nucleus in every living cell. Mitochondrial DNA clones itself rather than recombining, is passed to the next generation only by the mother (so the genes are never subjected to shuffling and recombination), and evolves ten times faster than DNA in the nucleus. It thus provides a new and independent, fast-ticking molecular clock for the relatively recent past to reveal an individual's maternal ancestry, although there are many assumptions involved in putting absolute dates onto forks in the family tree. The family tree based on mitochondrial DNA seems to show that the major racial grouping of humans arose perhaps 200,000 years ago with a basic three-way split into Africans, Caucasians and the Australian-Oriental lineage. This theory is supported by some Australian geneticists, such as Robert Kirk, who has argued on the basis of independent genetic work that the divergence of the ancestral lines of Australian Aborigines, black Africans and east Asians occurred between 200 000 and 100 000 years ago.
This type of analysis may eventually open a new window onto the past in the quest for the origin of the Australians, although in view of the documented variations between the rates of evolution of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, it is difficult to place much reliance solely on genetic and molecular data. The problems of the genetic approach in trying to determine the origin of modern humans wee well stated in 1992 by Thorne and Milford Wolpoff. They report that Mark Stoneking, an ex-student of the late Professor Alan Wilson (the leading exponent of the molecular clock), admitted in 1992 that their conclusions were statistically flawed, and that their clock was able to date the move out of Africa only to between 50 000 and 500 000 years - not a very accurate timepiece!
REGIONAL CONTINUITY OR RAPID REPLACEMENT?
The origin of anatomically modern humans is a major current debate among palaeoanthropologists. There are two main theories. The rapid replacement hypothesis (espoused by Chris Stringer and others) proposes a single African origin of Homo sapiens about 200 000 years ago, and then an outward migration and rapid replacement of existing archaic populations in Asia and the rest of the occupied world. The alternative regional continuity theory (put forward particularly by Weidenreich, Thorne and Wolpoff) suggests that modern human s evolved from already differentiated ancestral populations in a number of geographical regions. Australia (Indonesia, New guinea and Australia) is a key area for testing the latter, since many physical anthropologists have seen a morphological link between the Homo erects 'Java Man' and both prehistoric and modern Australian Aboriginal populations. If this suspected 'regional continuity' can be proved, it would show that Homo sapiens sapiens evolved within the region and did not migrate out of Africa.
The search for the ancestors of Pleistocene Australians suffers from the scarcity of comparable human remains in Asia. Only a handful have been found, the dating is usually uncertain, and most come from only two areas: Java or China. Some authorities, such as Peter Bellwood, consider that 'in southeast Asia there is simply insufficient fossil evidence to allow a proper evaluation of the two theories, and it may be simplistic to regard them as all or nothing alternatives. Indeed, there are biologists who favour both a radiation of modern humans into southeast Asia and some degree of genetic assimilation of pre-existing populations. All the early hominids of Java are generally thought to belong to the genus Homo erectus. Homo erectus were so-called because they walked nearly or completely upright rather than semi-erect, like the apes. They made more sophisticated tools and were larger brained than their predecessors. The cranial capacity of the Sangiran Homo erectus from Java averages about 950 millilitres. (Modern humans' brain capacity averages 1300 millilitres, whereas the earliest humans had brains less than half this size.) Nor were Sangiran humans very tall, standing about 153 centimetres (5 feet).
Until recently, it was thought that the Sangiran hominids were about 1 million years old, but on 25 February 1994, Carl Swisher and Garniss Curtis of the Institute of Human Origins in Berkeley, California, published an article in the journal Science that has revolutionised the story of human evolution. Two Homo erectus sites in Java have been shown to be as old as the oldest Homo erectus sites in Africa: 1.8 million years. Using state-of-the-at methods (of 40 Argon/39 Argon dating), they dated volcanic pumice associated with the skullcap of a young child at Majokerto to 1.81 million +- 40 000 years, and some of the cranial remains at Sangiran to 1.66 million +- 40 000 years. This means that there wee different populations of Homo erectus in two different parts of the globe - Africa and Asia - almost 2 million years ago. Did Homo erectus move out of Africa about 2 million years ago, much earlier than was previously thought, and some 600 000 years before the invention of the advanced Acheulean tool kit characterised by hand axes, stone cleavers and other bifacially worked stone tools? The complete absence of hand axes from java and all other Asian Homo erectus sites has always puzzled archaeologists, but would be explained if the ancestors of Asian Homo erectus ventured out of Africa before the advent of hand axes there, about 1.4 million years ago. Another possibility is that it was an even earlier ancestor of Homo erectus, such as Australopithecus or Homo habilis, who moved out of Africa to Asia, but no evidence of earlier hominids has yet been found in Asia. And in spite of the persuasive case put by Swisher, there are some who do not accept his dates and prefer the earlier estimate of 700 000 to one million years for Sangiran Homo.
The youngest remains of Homo erectus in Java are the eleven Ngandong crania, previously known as Homo soloensis, solo man, from a Late Pleistocene terrace on the Solo River. The Ngandong skulls have large broad crania with an average capacity of 1160 millilitres, and were dated to 100 000 years but Swisher now has unproven dates of about 50 000 years. Ngandong is generally classed as very early Homo sapiens, and regarded by those supporting the regional continuity theory as forming the central part of continuous sequence from Javan Homo erectus to Homo sapiens. In 1965 Macintosh made his famous comment on the Australian fossil skulls: 'the mark of Ancient Java is on all of them'. He later retracted, but Thorne (in 1992) maintained that the skeletons of the first inhabitants of Australia 'show the Javan complex of features, along with further braincase expansions and other modernizations. Several dozen well-preserved fossils from the late Pleistocene and early Holocene demonstrate that the same combination of features that distinguished those Indonesian people from their contemporaries distinguishes modern Austalian Aborigines from other living peoples.
The distinguishing Javan features, according to Thorne, are 'thick skull bones, with strong continuous browridges forming an almost straight bar of bone across their eye sockets and a second well-developed shelf of bone at the back of the skull for the neck muscles. Above and behind the brows, the forehead is flat and retreating. These early Indonesians (the Sangiran Homo erectus) also have large projecting faces with massive rounded cheekbones. Their teeth are the largest known in archaic humans from that time.' Other features are 'a rolled ridge on the lower edge of the eye sockets, a distinctive ridge on the cheekbone and a nasal floor that blends smoothly into the face'. This 'unique morphology' was stable for at least 700 000 years in Java, Thorne claims, and is reflected in the Ngandong series of skulls, although their brain cases have evolved into the modern rang. After Ngandong, unfortunately, thee is a serious gap in the southeast Asian fossil record.
The claimed morphological links between Indonesian and Australian hominids were rigorously evaluated in an analysis by Philip Habgood, who concluded that 'there are a number of morphological features which, when found in combination, appear to document continuity between the early Indonesian material and some prehistoric and modern Australian crania'. He nonetheless cautions that 'the present skeletal sample from Australasia is not adequate to allow a clear distinction between the two competing explanations as to the origins of modern humans in the region'. The 'stamp of early China' has also been identified by Thorne on the 'gracile' Australian fossil group. Keilor and WLH 1 are claimed to resemble closely the Liukiang skull from southern China, the Zhoukoudian upper cave people, Niah from Borneo and Tabon from the Philippines. A recent development has been the dating of an early form of Homo sapiens in China - the Jinniushan skull - to the remarkably early time of 200 000 years ago. The age from ESR and uranium-series dating) is reliable, but makes it almost as old as some of the latest Chinese Homo erectus fossils, such as Skull V from the upper stratum at Zhoukoudian. Chen Tiemel and his colleagues from Beijing comment that, 'This raises the possibility of the coexistence of the two species in China. The morphology of the skull suggests a strong local component of evolution, consonant with the "multi-regional continuity" model of the evolution of H. sapiens.'
Chinese parallels, nevertheless, have been stressed less by Thorne and Wolpoff than the Javanese affinities of the robust Australian hominids. For instance, in 1980 Wolpoff wrote: 'the resemblance of some specific characteristics to the morphology common in the solo (Ngandong) sample is so marked that it is difficult to deny an evolutionary relationship in the Australasian region, a point suggested by Weidenreich several decades ago'.
Because the initial discoveries of human remains in Australia happened to produce individuals widely separated in time and space as well as bodily proportions, the theory of two biologically separate founding groups was formulated. Now, on the basis of a much larger, albeit still inadequate and undated sample, other theories are possible.
David Bulbeck has recent put forward two alternative hypotheses:
The first hypothesis takes the evidence from the available dates on faith, and proposes a dramatic in situ craniomorphological evolution within Australia from what may have been a single founding population. The second hypothesis stresses the meagre sampling of the Australasian Homo sapiens fossil record older than the Late Glacial Maximum, and proposes, as the most parsimonious solution, that at least two populations (of disputed origins) settled Australia in the Pleistocene ... these two populations then blended together, producing the intermediate population represented by the terminal Pleistocene to early Holocene Australian fossil crania.
The straightforward inference is that Australia was originally colonised by a 'gracile" population which then evolved into a "robust" population as a biological response to the harsh conditions encountered in Pleistocene Australia ... After the hypothesised ancestral population fanned out across Australia, they faced a suite of unfamiliar resources and a generally deteriorating climate, which culminated with the Late Glacial Maximum, when conditions in western New South Wales would have combined the harshest aspects of the weather of Tierra del Fuego and Inner Mongolia (Bowler 1998) ...
biological adaptation thus led to the evolution of the morphology of fossils such as WLH 50 which may date to the Late glacial Maximum ... with the implication that the large robust Homo sapiens fossil crania of southeastern Australia represent in situ biological adaptation ... subsequent climatic amelioration appears to have been associated with the evolution of the middle to late Holocene Murray Valley morphology from its terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene condition, as argued by Brown.
It is interesting after the heated robust-gracile debate of the last twenty years to go back to 1960 and Don Brothwell's simple statement before any of the Kow Swamp or Willandra hominids were discovered: 'Whichever theory one prefers, it is apparent that there is a general acceptance that the early populations of southeast Asia included both a robust fossil type and a more slender (?later) form, the former being similar if not ancestral to the modern australoids.
Only further discoveries and dating of existing fossils will help to determine which theory is correct, if either, and whether the ancestors of Australian Aboriginals came out of Africa or Asia.
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