The skull dimensions and facial features match most closely to
the native people of Australia and Melanesia. These people date back
to about 60,000 years, and were themselves descended from the first
humans, who left Africa about 100,000 years ago.
But how could the early Australians have travelled more than
13,500 kilometres (8,450 miles) at that time? The answer comes from
more cave paintings, this time from the Kimberley, a region at the
northern tip of Western Australia.
Here, Grahame Walsh, an expert on Australian rock art, found the
oldest painting of a boat anywhere in the world. The style of the
art means it is at least 17,000 years old, but it could be up to
50,000 years old.
And the crucial detail is the high prow of the boat. This would
have been unnecessary for boats used in calm, inland waters. The
design suggests it was used on the open ocean.
Archaeologists speculate that such an incredible sea voyage,
from Australia to Brazil, would not have been undertaken knowingly
but by accident.
Just three years ago, five African fishermen were caught in a
storm and a few weeks later were washed up on the shores of South
America. Two of the fishermen died, but three made it alive.