The question of when people first arrived in Australia has been the subject of lively debate among archaeologists, and one with important consequences for the global story of human evolution. Australia is the end point of early modern human migration out of Africa, and sets the minimum age for the global dispersal of humans.
This event was remarkable on many fronts, as it represented the largest maritime migration yet undertaken, the settlement of the driest continent on Earth, and required adaptation to vastly different flora and fauna.
Although it is well known that anatomically modern humans were in Africa before 200,000 years ago and China around 80,000 years ago, many archaeologists believe that Australia was not occupied until 47,000 years ago.
But our research, published today in Nature, pushes back the timing of this event to at least 65,000 years ago.