Southeast Asian and Australian paleoanthropology: a review of the last century.

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Abstract

A large and diverse body of scholarship has been developed around the fossil evidence discovered in Southeast Asia and Australia. However, despite its importance to many different aspects of paleoanthropological research, Australasia has often received significantly less attention than it deserves. This review will focus primarily on the evidence for the origins of modern humans from this region. Workers like Franz Weidenreich identified characteristics in the earliest inhabitants of Java that bore some resemblance to features found in modern indigenous Australians. More recent work by numerous scholars have built upon those initial observations, and have contributed to the perception that the fossil record ofAustralasia provides one of the better examples of regional continuity in the human fossil record. Other scholars disagree, insteadflnding evidence for discontinuity between these earliest Indonesians and modern Australian groups. These authorities cite support for an alternative hypothesis of extinction of the ancient Javan populations and their subsequent replacement by more recently arrived groups of modern humans. Presently, the bulk of the evidence supports this latter model. A dearth of credible regional characteristics linking the Pleistocene fossils from Java to early Australians, combined with a series offeatures indicating discontinuity between those same groups, indicate that the populations represented by the fossils from Sangiran and Ngandong went extinct without contributing genes to modern Australians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-31
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS / Istituto italiano di antropologia
Volume87
StatePublished - 2009

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