I have just returned from a lengthy sojourn in Australia over Christmas and the New Year. Oz is a country in which I lived for 24 of my 43 years, and I hold an Australian passport as well as my UK one. My parents live there and the annual pilgrimage “home” always raises spectres of reverse immigration for me and my family. I haven’t posted anything to this blog since early December, and all I can say in my defence is… ummm… nothing really. I was busy. Sorry.
But mentioning Australia gives me a convenient “in” to an interesting academic paper which is currently doing the rounds of the mainstream press. The paper suggests that Australia experienced a wave of migration from India about 4,000 years ago, contrary to the previous asusmption that the continent had been largely isolated after the first humans arrived about 40,000 years ago until the Europeans moved in in the 1800s.
But DNA from Aboriginal Australians revealed there had been some movement from India during this period. To study the early origins of Australia’s population, the team compared genetic material from Aboriginal Australians with DNA from people in New Guinea, South East Asia and India. Looking at specific genetic markers, the researchers found an ancient genetic association between New Guineans and Australians, which dates to about 35,000 to 45,000 years ago. At that time, Australia and New Guinea were a single land mass, called Sahul, and this tallies with the period when the first humans arrived.
The researchers also believe the Indian migrants may have introduced the dingo to Australia, as the fossil record suggests the wild dogs arrived in Australia at around the same time. Changes in technology, evidenced by microliths, also date from the same period.
This is interesting because the relatively recent presence of the dingo has been known for some time, begging the question of where they came from is Australia was as isolated as had been assumed.