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Colonization of Sahul and the New World - Essay Example

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Pages 6 (1506 words)


This discussion explores how and when the first humans travelled to the previously unoccupied continental land masses of Australia (Sahul) and the Americas (the New World), and analyses the impact that these humans had on the existent megafauna. Humans are widely thought to have caused widespread extinction of the megafauna on these two continents because their arrival coincided with the mass extinction…

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Colonization of Sahul and the New World

These late Pleistocene migrations coincided with the end of the earth's most recent period of glaciations (Ice Ages). The accumulation of vast amounts of ice in the glaciers resulted in punctuated drops in the sea level of up to 100m allowing easier access to the previously uninhabited continents.
When the Homo Sapiens left Africa they are believed to have migrated east toward India and then south east along the coast of Asia until they reached Australia between 45,000 to 42,000 years ago (O'Connella & Allen 2004). At that time, due to the much lower sea level, most of martime Southeast Asia formed one land mass - known as the lost continent of Sunda. Following the coastal route southeast they would have reached the channel between Sunda and Sahul (present day Australia and New Guinea). This channel, between the Sahul and Sunda (known as the Wallace Line) must have been traversed by the technologically more advanced Homo Sapiens whereas the earlier Homo Erectus never traversed it (O'Connella & Allen 2004). It is presumed that they used rafts of some sort to traverse the channel.
The close chronological coincidence of the arrival of humans capable of hunting megafauna and the P ...
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