Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Australia Wasn't Found By Accident, Study Suggests

The Australian continent from NASA's "Blue Marble" satellite imagery of Earth.

Australia's colonization may have been an organized affair rather than an accident, a new analysis suggests.

Some 50,000 years ago, aboriginal human settlers arrived on the continent, but how many people it took to found Australia's population is unknown. The new study, published Tuesday (April 23) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that about 1,000 to 3,000 individuals originally landed on Australia's shores.

"This is largely speculative, but I think this suggests something more than accidental colonization by a small group on a raft of vegetation or other unplanned voyage," study researcher Alan Williams, a doctoral candidate at The Australian National University, wrote in an email. "For me, this suggests a deliberate attempt at exploration (if not migration) more akin to those we see in the recent past from Hawaii and other Pacific islands." [Gallery: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth]

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