A University of Melbourne-led team say Mungo Man's new age is 40,000 years, reigniting the debate for the 'Out of Africa' theory. The research also boosted the age of Mungo Lady, the world's first recorded cremation, by 10,000 years putting her at the same age as Mungo Man. It is the first time scientists have reached a broad agreement on the ages of the Lake Mungo remains.
"The ages paint a new picture of the human and climatic history of Australia," says the discoverer of the Lake Mungo remains, Professor Jim Bowler, a geologist and Professorial Fellow with the University of Melbourne.
The research will be published in the 20 February issue of Nature
In 1999, Australian National University scientists estimated the age of Mungo Man to be 62,000 years. This created a frenzy of excitement and vigorous debate among scientists as this rewrote the history of human occupation in Australia and had profound implications for the origins of modern man.
"Australia's colonisation is one of the keys to our understanding of how Homo sapiens evolved and spread around the world. It is critical we get the story correct," says Bowler.
To solve the long-standing debate, Professor Bowler amassed a multidisciplinary team of experts from the Universities of Melbourne, Adelaide, Wollongong, the Australian National University, CSIRO and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and used multiple methods and four separate dating laboratories to achieve a final consensus.
"Dr Nigel Spooner (formerly ANU) and Dr Bert Roberts (University of Wollongong), both co-authors on the paper, have advanced current dating techniques and were integral in achieving confidence in the accuracy of our results. They were supported by co-authors Dr Jon Olley (CSIRO) a
Contact: Jason Major
University of Melbourne