The First Odyssey- did humans leave Africa by sea?

By Dr. Nicholas Longrich

Dr. Nicholas Longrich
The human evolutionary tree shows multiple “Out-of-Africa” dispersals (red). Modern H. sapiens (blue) is just the last of these.
Map tracing the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of southern Africa and into territories occupied by Neanderthals, Denisovans, and archaic Homo sapiens.
The shallow mouth of the Red Sea narrowed to a few kilometers across during the last Ice Age- but didn’t dry up.
Even at the height of the ice ages, water separated Australia from Asia. Australia’s colonization by aboriginal peoples could only have been accomplished by water, and required more than one crossing. Boats must have been invented before 65,000–70,000 years ago, when Australia was first peopled (Wikipedia).
Australian raft, made of two overlapping layers of mangrove trunks, with fish spear and paddle (Australian National Maritime Museum).
Australian bark canoe (Australian Maritime Museum). Bark was heated and shaped into a hollow hull, with ends tied together to amke a sharp prow and square stern (towards the viewer).
Aboriginal fishermen, New South Wales, c. 1817. Men in the foreground use fish spears, while men in the background dive for shellfish. A bark canoe lies on the sand. By Joseph Lycett.
Aboriginal fishermen, New South Wales, c. 1817. Men in the foreground use fish spears, while men in the background dive for shellfish. A bark canoe lies on the sand. By Joseph Lycett.
Barbs of an Aboriginal fishing spear (Australian Museum)
Modern fishing boats result from a 100,000 year history of seafaring and fishing
Captain Cook’s ships Resolution and Discovery in Tahiti. Two great seafaring peoples- the Polynesians and the British- encounter one another.

Dr. Nick Longrich, Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath

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