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However, following the discovery of fossil human-like remains in Indonesia by Dubois [27], the view eventually emerged that Australians may actually have descended from a local population within Southeast Asia, either Pithecanthropus [19] or Homo soloensis [28, 29].

Klaatsch [19] found it “impossible to believe that the Australian natives are descended from European palaeolithic man” (page 162) as proposed by Huxley (see other criticisms in [30, 31]).

sapiens and had in mind a global evolutionary sequence in which “Solo Man” (Ngandong) and “Rhodesian Man” (Kabwe) were examples of “proto-Australians,” belonging together to living humans in H. Also, Dubois [28, 29] thought that the Wadjak remains he recovered from Indonesia were “Australoid” although they now seem to be terminal Pleistocene in age and are probably not related to Aboriginal Australians [32].

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A recent major review of the question of modern human origins [1] identified three major issues for Australian palaeoanthropology to be resolved: (1) the relationship of the first Australians to later inhabitants of the continent, (2) whether late Pleistocene morphological diversity may have been accentuated by the severity of the last glacial maximum, leading to isolation and the forcing of morphological change in some Australian populations, and (3) if archaic populations such as those known from Ngandong did survive into the late Pleistocene, an analogous situation to that in Europe might have existed, raising the possibility of gene flow with dispersing H. Stringer’s [1] points 2 and 3 relate to the possible cause(s) of cranial robusticity in some Pleistocene/early Holocene Australians.That is, whether such features arose as a result of natural selection acting on populations within Australia or were brought here by people who evolved from, or hybridised/admixed with, a nonmodern population in Southeast Asia (i.e., the Solo/Ngandong hominins).In Lyell’s volume, Huxley’s (1863) first comparisons of Aboriginal skulls to Neanderthal remains were noted, indicating various morphological resemblances (not exclusive though, or implying ancestry).As the first anthropologist to study human origins from comparative anatomical and fossil sources, and placing his ideas within the Darwinian evolutionary framework, Huxley can reasonably be considered the founder of the discipline of palaeoanthropology.Recent developments in the morphological sciences, especially relating to the ontogeny of the cranium indicate that character atomisation, an approach underpinning phylogenetic reconstruction, is fraught with difficulties.

This leads to the conclusion that phylogenetic-based explanations for robusticity should be reconsidered and a more parsimonious approach to explaining Aboriginal Australian origins taken.Moreover, the idea that Australians could trace their ancestry to a non-modern Pleistocene population such as Homo erectus in Southeast Asia have existed for more than 100 years, being explicitly linked to cranial robusticity.It is argued here that in order to resolve this issue a new program of research should be embraced, one aiming to test the full range of alternative explanations for robust morphology.Moreover, as Aboriginal Australians were central to his ideas, as well as to the early development of this scientific field, Huxley ensured their place at the centre of debate surrounding human origins, a position they have held for close to 150 years.During the early 20th century, many researchers continued to focus on documenting similarities in cranial form between Australians and the Neanderthals [24–26], inspired by Huxley’s earlier and highly influential work (see Figure 1).Australian palaeoanthropological theory and method continues to be dominated by adaptationist accounts [20] of robusticity and population history.