Sahul Dinosaurs

A big problem withstudying the Pleistocene Sahul continent is the paucity of organized scholarshipaddressing it all.  It really needs acenter dedicated to the subject.

I have alreadyconcluded that what is the Sahul is a remnant evolved from the age of reptilesin a unique manner that provided a successor population radically differentfrom the rest of the Earth.  Kangaroosmake all that obvious but also hides it. 

The Pleistoceneended mostly 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. As a direct result, most of Australia desertified wiping out atropical continuum that reached far into the continent and made conditionsimpossible for large reptiles.  Theflooding of the Asturias Sea and CarpentianGulf eliminated most of a hugerainforest leaving a residue and refugia mostly in Papua New Guinea.  Yet this loss is incredibly recent.  That means a host of reptiles had a goodchance to remain in various refugia out of sight and out of mind.

There is no gapof millions of years and we have aboriginal art depicting both theropods andapathosaurs.   I suspect that we simplydo not know how to look and their home range is simply far too intimidating.

Yet we even havereports of sightings of pterosaurs.

And just how farhas a kangaroo evolved from an upright reptile. Did Tyrannosaurus Rex hop after his prey?

I think that theSahul is n untapped gold mine of biological knowledge and isolated populationsworth investigating.


By K. Kris Hirst, Guide


Sahul is the name given to the single Pleistocene-era continent which combinedAustralia with New Guinea and Tasmania. At the time, the sea level was asmuch as 150 meters lower than it is today; and it was separated from the othergreat land mass (Sunda) by the Sahul Strait. The island in the photograph wouldhave been part of Sahul.
Archaeologists care about this ancientcontinental shift because to get the Sahul populated, people had to activelywork at getting there from the Sunda (in other words, they had to have boats orrafts and were likely to intend getting there). Currently, there are twotheories about when this happened: 60,000 or 40,000 years ago. Scholars doagree that there are sites in Australia that date to at least 40,000 years ago,including Devil's LairLake Mungo, Nauwalabila, and Malakunanja. TheO'Connell and Allen paper listed below is an excellent review of the recentconsiderations.

This glossary entry is part of the Guide to Populating Australia and the Dictionaryof Archaeology.
O'Connell, James F. and Jim Allen 2004 Datingthe colonization of Sahul (Pleistocene Australia--New Guinea): Areview of recent research. Journalof Archaeological Science31:835-853.

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