Human Pleistocene adaptations in the tropical island Pacific: recent evidence from New Ireland, a Greater Australian outlier Academic Article uri icon


  • The late Pleistocene colonization of Greater Australia by humans by c. 40,0130 b.p. is now generally accepted. This landmass, which comprised at periods of lower sea levels Tasmania, Australia and Papua New Guinea, has now produced sites with rich and diverse sequences extending towards or now mainly beyond 30,000 b.p., in the present arid country of western New South Wales (Barbetti & Allen 1972), in southwest Western Australia (Pearce & Barbetti 1981), in the Papua New Guinea Highlands (Gillieson & Mountain 1983), and recently even in Tasmania (Cosgrove 1989).Prior to 1985, with the exception of an 11,000 b.p. date for occupation in Misisjl Cave on New Britain (Specht et al. 1981), the tropical lowlands of Papua New Guinea and its attendant nearer Melanesian island chain had remained a blank on the region’s map of Pleistocene human expansion.

publication date

  • September 1989