Human Evolution in Sunda and Sahul
In a recent volume published in honour of the work of palaeoanthropologist / primatologist / taxonomist Colin Groves, I published with colleagues a chapter that considered five major themes in human evolution that Groves has devoted considerable thought towards. These included: i) the question of the taxonomic affinity of the first hominins in Sunda, ii) the first crossing of the Wallace line by archaic hominins, iii) the evolutionary trajectory of Homo erectus (with a focus on the meaning of late derived erectus), iv) the second crossing of the Wallace Line by Homo sapiens resulting in the subsequent colonisation of Sahul, and v) the important new insights that studies of ancient DNA are contributing to our rewriting of the human evolutionary narrative in Sunda and Sahul. These represent key topics in human evolutionary studies on our genus within the region, but since this paper was published in 2015 there has been considerable progress. In this presentation I will explore some of these more recent developments in what could be argued as one of the most exciting regions in palaeoanthropological research.
About the Presenter
Michael is a palaeoanthropologist with degrees in biological anthropology, archaeology and education. He is a senior research fellow in the Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University and is Head of the Palaeoanthropology Research Theme. His interests are largely focused around the intersection between biology and archaeology. His current research program includes research on human origins in Sunda and Sahul, the early colonization of Australia and human-environment interactions in the past (with a particular focus on the climatic perturbations of the Late Pleistocene). He has a current excavation program at the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area and an extensive field program in Cape York. He has studied many significant human fossil collections around the world, and continues to work on the human remains collection from the Willandra Lakes. He now studies the origins and ancient migrations of south east Asian and Australian peoples and how these correspond with morphological, linguistic and genetic data. Additional research interests include taphonomy, bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. Importantly Michael undertakes much of his research in partnership with Aboriginal communities, and is one of the few university based biological anthropologists still undertaking human remains related research with Indigenous communities in Australia.