Bigging the Hole

4 Nov 2016

At ... humans settled in Australia around 50,000 years ago (and possibly even earlier). This applies to the interior outback as much as the coastal zone. The Flinders Range in South Australia, 280 mile adrift of Adelaide, display evidence of human occupation - and the sediments have been dated according to a paper in Nature this month. The discovery of bone tools and the use of pigments such as ochre appear to cement the findings. It seems a recent revision of the Out of Africa paradigm, which allows a migration into Australia somewhat earlier than the main thrust of movement around 40,000 years ago, has opened up a vacuum that is now being filled. You can expect more evidence of early Australian arrivals as scientists get to grips with bigging the hole.

At ... we are told Melanesians may carry genetic material of an unknown extinct form of Homo sapiens. Melanesians are also mysterious in another way as they have dark skin, similar to Africans, but a quarter of them allegedly have blonde hair. No one knows why?

At ... a Middle Stone Age ochre processing tool has been found in Ethiopia. Ochre fragments (rocks containing iron oxides, red or yellow) have also been found at Middle Stone Age sites (around 40,000 years ago). Ochre was perhaps used in glue substances used to fix handles to tools etc - but they may also have been used in body painting.