World’s oldest stone axes found in Kakadu


Traditional owners Simon Mudjandi, Rosie Mudjandi, May Nango and Mark Djanjomerr at the rock shelter.The The Out of Africa theory, like all theories, remains valid until proven wrong. However the theory is not the only one and there is much contradictory evidence.

The general public believe that the ‘Out of Africa’ case is closed and in the early 1980s, Alan Wilson, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, further refined traditional anthropological thinking with his work with PhD students Rebecca Cann and Mark Stoneking on the so-called “Mitochondrial Eve” hypothesis

Wilson and Cann secured bragging rights  in perpetuity, science had once again provided certainty and an African ancestry. Or so it seemed.

But not long after their paper was published Rebecca Cann realised they were mistaken. In 1982 she examined the mitochondrial DNA of 112 Indigenous people, including twelve full-descent Aboriginals, and the results were in total opposition to what they assumed was fully resolved.

Nevertheless, Cann was obliged to contradict a central tenet of their paper, stating that “mitochondrial DNA puts the origin of Homo sapiens much further back and indicates that the Australian Aboriginals arose 400,000 years ago from two distinct lineages, far earlier than any other racial type.”8 Not only was the emergence of Aboriginal Homo sapiens “far earlier”9 than any Africans, she provided a sequence and motherland.

The Australian racial group has a much higher number of mutations than any other racial group, which suggests that the Australians split off from a common ancestor about 400,000 years ago. By the same theory, the Mongoloid originated about 100,000 years ago, and the Negroid and Caucasian groups about 40,000 years ago.

One major significance of this new discovery is that archaeologists will have to recalibrate previous assumptions about the journey out of Africa by modern humans. Most academics believe the trek began between 80,000 and 100,000 years ago, but until now there was no solid evidence that humans had reached south-east Asia – let alone Australia – for anything beyond 50,000 years.

“Now we know humans were living in northern Australia a minimum of 65,000 years ago, the search will be on to discover each of the steps they took on the way,” Professor Clarkson said.

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