Segments in this Video

Southeast Australia (02:27)


Approximately 42,000 years ago, a man was ceremoniously buried in Southeast Australia. The land used to be rich in resources but has since dried out.

Mungo Man and Mungo Lady (04:12)

Approximately 42,000 years ago, a man and a woman died along Lake Mungo. The man was ritually buried and the woman was cremated. Their bones are the oldest remains found in Australia.

Aborigines (03:23)

At the beginning of the 20th century, Alfred Haddon collected hair from Aboriginal Australians. Eske Willerslev used DNA technology to trace the Aboriginal genome.

Island Hopping (02:45)

Prehistoric explorers reached the southern tip of Asia and developed a coastal hunter gatherer society. The coastal area quickly depleted of resources. People began island hopping, eventually landing in Australia.

Ocean Barrier (03:17)

The world was in an ice age when people migrated to Australia, lowering the sea levels. Southeast Asia and Australia were as close as 60 miles. People migrated to Australia in a single wave.

Gabarnmung (03:40)

Gabarnmung was inhabited beginning 48,000-50,000 years ago. Passed down through one Aboriginal group, the site is still a spiritual location.

Art at Gabarnmung (02:01)

Walls at Gabarnmung are covered in prehistoric art depicting animals and Mimis— spiritual beings that Aboriginals believe taught their ancestors how to hunt, cook, and paint.

Isolated Ecosystem (04:13)

Australia developed in isolation from other continents, creating a unique ecosystem. The fossils of unique animals were found in the Naracoorte Caves.

Lake Mungo (02:19)

Prehistoric humans found a plentiful ecosystem in Australia. Lake Mungo had resources to support humans for years; archeological evidence is plentiful in modern day Lake Mungo National Park.

Mungo Man (02:35)

Mungo Man's teeth are worn away in places and one was purposely removed; a common custom of this time. His jaw provides an insight into prehistoric culture.

Climate Change (03:25)

As the ice age increased, water dried up and Australia became a desert. Animals went extinct and prehistoric humans were endangered.

Duck-Billed Platypus (03:10)

The lack of genetic variation that threatened Aboriginal Australians is now threatening the platypus. Platypuses need variation or the species will die out.

Trade Networks (02:14)

Aboriginal Australians saved their gene pool with trade networks. Contact and mating with other groups allowed genetic diversity.

Aboriginal Culture (03:26)

Aboriginal groups shared culture along song lines. Isolation allowed rituals to persist; there was no contact with outside cultures.

European Colonization (04:06)

Colonization in Australia stripped away Aboriginal land and customs. A fossil found on the beach where Europeans originally landed is 3,500 years old.

Regaining Culture (05:04)

Aboriginals lost their culture to European colonization. DNA testing of prehistoric humans will be able to tell modern Aboriginals about their history.

Credits: First Peoples: Australia (00:30)

Credits: First Peoples: Australia

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First Peoples: Australia

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When Homo sapiens arrived in Australia, they were, for the first time, truly alone, surrounded by wildly different flora and fauna. How did they survive and populate a continent? There is a close cultural and genetic link between the First Australians and modern-day Aborigines. The ancient and modern story intersect here as nowhere else in the world. The secret to this continuity is diversity. Intuitively, they found the right balance between being separate and connected.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL129847

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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