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Computer Model Suggests First Australians Planned Migration

Monday, May 21, 2018

Australia first voyagersQUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA—A computer simulation suggests that Australia was settled by purposeful migrants between 50,000 and 65,000 years ago, and not accidental travelers, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Sean Ulm of James Cook University and his colleagues simulated likely routes from the islands of Timor and Roti to islands off Australia’s northwest coast that are now submerged, in a computer model that included information from deep-sea mapping and wind and ocean currents, and accounted for paddling. The modelling suggests that accidental drifting would not have led to landings on Australia’s northwestern islands. Ulm estimates it would have taken well-prepared voyagers between four and seven days to complete the 90-mile trip. “It has to be purposeful, it has to be coordinated and it has to be fairy large-scale to explain the patterns we see,” Ulm said. Genetic studies have suggested the population that made the original voyage numbered between 100 and 200 individuals. For more on early settlement of the region, go to “Settling Southeast Asia.”

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