Dating of ancient human teeth discovered in a Sumatran cave site suggests modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought.
The international research, led by Dr Kira Westaway from Macquarie University and published in Nature, has pushed back the timing of when humans first left Africa, their arrival in Southeast Asia, and the first time they lived in rainforests.
Why did Stegodon, the elephant-like animals that were once widespread throughout Asia, decline and eventually disappear?
Stegodon were a group of trunked mammals, related to (but not the ancestors of) modern elephants. As they dispersed to many of the Southeast Asian islands with scarcer food resources, they evolved to become ‘dwarfed’.
The 2003 discovery of a fossil of a small, human-like creature, Homo floresiensis (nicknamed ‘Hobbit’), in Indonesia by the late Professor Mike Morwood and Professor Raden Soejono shook up palaeoanthropologists worldwide. But there was more to find.
In 2010 Mike and his team returned to the island of Flores. With researchers from the Geology Museum Bandung, Geological Survey Institute of Indonesia and Pusat Penelitian Arkeologi Nasional, and with the help of 120 trained field workers from the Ngada and Nage Keo districts, they initiated one of the largest fossil digs in Southeast Asia. They found pygmy elephants, Komodo dragons, giant rats, and stone tools.
An Australian archaeologist is advising on the preservation of sites of the unique prehistoric Jomon culture of Japan.
Hunter-gatherers are typically thought to be wanderers who moved to harvest the animals and plants on which they fed. Not so the Jomon, one of the important founding peoples of Japan.
By careful management of the resources they found in many varied environments in the north of Japan—fruit, nuts, fish, seafood, birds—the Jomon lived in permanent settlements for about ten thousand years until three thousand years ago. They were not farmers, but nonetheless lived in open, undefended villages. They developed sophisticated pottery, basketry and lacquered wooden crafts, and constructed storage pits and stone monuments.