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23 September 2017

Wallacea, between the SE Asia and Australia plates, consists of a number of mainly small islands, such as Sumba, Flores, Komodo, and Gili Matoy etc. Komodo is famous for the Komodo Dragon (a large lizard), for example, and Flores for the discovery of the small archaic human known as the Hobbit (in populist terms). See https://phys.org/print425201379.html … Wallacea likely holds evidence of a wide range of unknown extinct creatures as it has barely been explored for its fossils. Possibly other human relatives too. Now, the hunt is on – and so far Pleistocene period fossils and bones found on Sumba include a diminutive species of elephant (a real pygmy), as well as giant rats and various reptiles. Some of them were dated as recently as 12,000 years ago.

This group of islands is also called the Lesser Sunda Islands – as opposed to Sunda Land (or Greater Sunda), an extension of mainland SE Asia until around 8000 years ago when it was drowned by changing sea levels and created the larger islands of Indonesia. What happened in the Lesser Sunda 8000 years ago is unknown but it is assumed they were cut off by deep sea channels from Greater Sunda up to that point. Is this why ancient fossils have been preserved – as they lived on these remote islands which had no contact with surrounding bodies of land (including Australia as well as Sunda Land). Were they at one time connected – all three of them. In what circumstances could they have been rifted apart? How did Australian Aborigines reach Australia – across the deep sea channel or via New Guinea and Melanesia (in a N to S migration without touching the Lesser Sunda group)? 

Lots of information to be divulged over the next few years as scientists become attracted to solving the puzzles.

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