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He notes that genomic samples to date don't include Aborigines in northern Australia such as Nango and her family.
Their DNA—or that of their ancestors—might help resolve the issue.
She was one of the first to hear from Clarkson's team about new scientific dates for the Madjedbebe rock shelter in Australia's Arnhem Land, a region the Mirarr still call home.
The dates, based on new excavations and state-of-the-art methods, push back the earliest solid evidence for humans in Australia by 10,000 to 20,000 years and suggest that modern humans left Africa earlier than had been thought.
The authors also suggest the new date of 65,000 years for the peopling of Australia pushes back the time when modern humans coming out of Africa mated with archaic species in Asia, such as Neandertals and Denisovans.
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With Aborigine permission, the team reexcavated the site in 20 with painstaking stratigraphic controls.
They found hundreds of thousands of new artifacts, including "elaborate" technologies such as the world's oldest ground-edge stone axes, grindstones for pulverizing seeds, and finely made stone points that may have served as spear tips.Living Aborigines carry traces of those two species' DNA, which their ancestors must have acquired by mixing somewhere in Asia before they reached Australia.But such early mixing with Denisovans and Neandertals is at odds with genetic evidence from living Aborigines and nearby Melanesians, says population geneticist David Reich of Harvard University.She pointed to a spot near the back wall of the red sandstone cliff and told the children that it was a wonderful place for their ancestors—the "old people"—to sleep 65,000 years ago, says Clarkson of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.