Boat Immigrants Import Dangerous Dogs
Posted on the 26th January 2013
The continent of Australia has seen waves of immigration of peoples throughout its history. The first humans in Australia, the Indigenous Australian Aborigines, arrived at least 40,000 and possibly as long as 60,000 years ago. Their occupation of the continent may or may not have resulted in the demise of Australia’s megafauna (see my blog on megafauna) but other than that these people established a fine balance with the harsh environment and lived in harmony with the complex biodiversity that existed in Australia.
The migrations of the first huminoids around the globe which shows the first humans in Australia about 50,000 years ago
225 years ago Europeans made their first serious and permanent immigration to Australia with the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney. With them they bought a range of introduced species including farm animals (Horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs), pets (cats and dogs) and pests (rats and mice). The people and their introduced species wreaked havoc on the natural environment and caused or threatened the extinction of countless numbers of native species.
New evidence has recently been reported from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology that a previously unknown immigration of people to Australia may have occurred. According to studies of genetics of Australian Aborigines and Subcontinental Indians there was a significant signature of gene flow from India to Australia which occurred approximately 4250 years ago.
These Indian and Aboriginal children have been found to share more genetic similarities than previously thought
This preposed influx of Indian genes coincides with archaeological evidence of the appearance of stone tool technologies, a sudden change in plant processing and the first appearance of the dingo. So it seems that these Indian immigrants who must have arrived by boat and integrated into the Aboriginal community brought with them tools and skills and dogs.
The Australian dingo is closely related to other dogs (see my blog on Azaria Chamberlain and the Dingo) but morphologically closely resembles Indian dogs. Their arrival in Australia coincided with the extinction of the Thylacine (or marsupial Tasmanian Tiger) from the mainland of Australia.
A comparison of the marsupial thylacine and placental mammmal dingo
Theories about how the extinction may have been brought about vary. Some researchers say that direct competition for food and resources led to the demise of the Thylacine while others argue that the larger male dingo would have actively hunted down and killed Thylacines, especially the smaller females.
The dingo skull (right) is larger than the thylacine skulls, female (left) and male (centre) supporting the theory that dingos may have actively hunted thylacine. (photo credit Geoff Deacon)
When Europeans arrived in Australia the only Thylacines to remain lived on the island of Tasmania where the dingo had not been introduced. It took only until the 1930s for the Thylacine to become extinct as Tasmanian farmers hunted it. The last known Tasmanian Tiger died a lonely death in a Hobart zoo.
This video shows a recording of the last known living thylacine
So it seems that the same processes occurred many times in Australia’s history, with arrivals of peoples and other species impacting on the native ecosystem. These days the introduction of exotic species of plants and animals is strictly regulated with Australia’s quarantine procedures being amongst the most stringent in the world. Hopefully this will help to protect the remnants of native ecosystems we have remaining and the control of exotic species already present will assist too.
The arrival of new people is also curtailed by strict immigration regulations. But personally I believe that there is certainly room in Australia for new peoples of all creeds and colours who have a passion for success and an entrepreneurial spirit.
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