An Extended Family

In our previous article we made reference to mtDNA research that stands in direct opposition to the Out-of-Africa theory. Professors Alan Wilson and Rebecca Cann suggested then rejected an African genesis of Homo sapiens. Both conducted further independent mitochondrial studies which led them to reposition humanities’ point of origin out of Africa and into Australia. The apathy and disdain that followed was due to a mixture of archaeologists steadfastly defending known academic haunts, and a chronic inability to think outside the box. According to prevailing expectations, Wilson and Cann failed on two elemental counts. First and foremost, the case was already closed, the scholars were satisfied that Africa’s credentials were secure. For Wilson and Cann to be right, irrespective of what genetic anomalies they identified, we have the supposedly ludicrous notion of Homo erectus sailing across 100 kilometres of ocean in a vessel carrying no less than 20 adults around 400.000 years ago.

It is widely accepted that Homo erectus was capable of making tools and possibly made fire, but when it comes to the higher achievements such as art and creating ocean-going boats, these are exclusively the patent of Homo sapiens. The genetic model redesigned by Cann and Wilson, if correct, contradicts nearly everything written in texts and taught in schools in relation to human pre-history.

The problem being, in 1999 (eight years after Wilson died) Michael Morwood conclusively proved that not 400,000 years ago, but nearly 1,000,000 years ago, Homo erectus was indeed constructing large boats capable of sailing considerable distances. Not only did his discoveries at Flores Island introduce numbers and hominids never suspected by experts, the island of Flores is the second closest to Australia. Such convincing evidence of Homo erectus’ nautical prowess led Josephine Flood to concede that not only were “Homo erectus voyages closer to Australia,” but this fact “also makes evidence for an earlier human arrival of ancient mariners into Australia easier to accept.”

Morwood found evidence on Flores Island that intelligent hominids (either Homo sapien or erectus) sailed there sometime between “800.000 and 900.000 years” ago. “The dating is reliable-volcanic tuff deposits from above and below indisputable stone artefacts and associated extinct fauna were securely dated with the well-tried and trusted fission-track method.” The island was never joined to any part of Indonesia, separated by 20 kilometres of ocean and “three deepwater straits.” Irrespective of whether these mariners were of the species sapien or erectus, to successfully populate this island requires an initial influx of no less than 20 adults (to negate in-breeding). If, at a later date, the numbers become too large for the resources of the island to sustain and some continued onwards in their southward journey, these explorers would next step ashore at Timor. Beyond Timor, if still heading south, all that remains is one large southern continent: Australia.

The entire scenario is consistent, especially so when factoring in the minor improvements required if sailing longer distances in a boat of the same dimensions to that which reached Flores. With sea-worthiness and size already present, the modifications needed to sail an extra 80 kilometres when given over 400,000 years to lift the prow and strengthen the structure, are not beyond the abilities of these explorers.

Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The Story of Prehistoric Australia and Its People, 6th ed. (Marleston, Australia: J.B. Publishing, 2004). 3.

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