Decoding the secrets of a forgotten human history during the Pleistocene

An international team of researchers has discovered the first fossilised bone from a Pleistocene-era human in Wallacea, the cluster of Indonesian islands, including Lombok, Sulaewsi, Timor and Sumba, that were the likely seafaring gateway for the first humans to populate Australia.

The new find, published today in the journal PLOS one, offers a tantalising glimpse of a forgotten people, but one of the archaeologists behind the research says that the information we currently don’t know about these people vastly outweighs the fascinating crumbs they’ve left behind.

“We’ve found the first human skeletal remains from the Ice Age on the island of Sulawesi,” says study co-author Adam Brumm, an archaeologist from Griffith University who has dedicated his working life to the secrets of ancient Wallacea. “It’s important because it’s the first time we have the biological remains of the people that we think were some of the earliest humans to live on Sulawesi, and their story’s important because these people made some of the oldest rock artin the world.

“But the problem is it’s just a very small fragmentary piece of the upper jawbone, and we really can’t tell too much.”

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