When British convicts were sent to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries, they found that the island nation was already populated, but no one could figure out where these people had come from. The land was so isolated that it seemed impossible that anyone could have traveled there in unsophisticated boats.
Now a lock of hair that was collected by a British anthropologist 100 years ago may hold the key to where the aborigines originally came from, as it's tested for its DNA. DNA from the hair reveals that these ancient ancestors arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago, and they somehow managed to keep the whole continent to themselves until the British convicts arrived many years later.
Despite the Aborigines' isolation, there's evidence that a some kind of major cultural exchange occurred around 6,000 years ago: Their stone tools become more sophisticated, and the population increased. The Aborigines did not farm or raise livestock, they did domesticate a wild dog, called the dingo. Researchers have traced the spread of the dingo across the Polynesian islands by analyzing the DNA in their bones, but they have not found any trace of Polynesian genes in the Aborigines.
But somehow, the dingo arrived, and it may have been what made the difference: Since most of Australia is a barren wasteland, having a dog to lead them to wild game may have been what insured their survival.
In the September 23rd edition of the New York Times, Nicholas Wade quotes researcher Peter Savolainen as saying that how the dingo arrived in Australia is an "enigma," because no other elements of Polynesian culture have been found there.
Wade quotes paleoanthropologist Richard Klein as saying, "Something remarkable happened in Australia 6,000 to 4,000 years ago, and it involved much more than the dingo." The earliest Aborigine migration must have come from an ancestral homeland somewhere in northeast Africa, meaning they are direct descendants of the first modern humans to leave that continent, without any genetic mixture from other races.
Despite their primitive tools, the earliest Australians must have had advanced boat-building technology in order to cross the ocean to that continent, but there is no archeologist has found any evidence of boats. Their dark skin denotes their African origin, in latitudes near the equator, unlike lighter-skinned Europeans and Asian, whose ancestors evolved the pale skin needed for living in latitudes with less direct sunlight. As such, they are a DIRECT link to the ancient history of evolution! Wade quotes researcher Eske Willerslev, who analyzed the hair, as saying, "Aboriginal Australians likely have one of the oldest continuous population histories outside sub-Saharan Africa today."
Does time move differently than we think it does? Could it move BACKWARDS, as well as forwards? Nobody knows what will happen in the future--will there be a Superstorm? Will 2012 be the end of us? Will we discover that time travel is real? If you can imagine a painting made in (what seems like) a mental institution (but which is filled with ex-CIA type agents) as really being a time machine, you'll enjoy Whitley Strieber's wonderful novel "The Omega Point." That novel, along with his novel "2012" and his nonfiction book "The Coming Global Superstorm," written with Art Bell, are all out of print, but you can get them (along with an autographed bookplate designed by Whitley) from the Whitley Strieber Collection. And if you REALLY want to know what's going to happen in the future, remember: Whitley Strieber's sequel to Communion, "Solving the Communion Enigma," will be published in January. Make sure you're among the FIRST to get a copy: Pre-order it today!