Once seen as the margins of our

planet (see Kirch, 1997),

Once seen as the margins of our

planet (see Kirch, 1997), islands have emerged as centers of early human interaction, demographic expansion, and exploration (Erlandson and Fitzpatrick, 2006, Rainbird, 2007 and Fitzpatrick and Anderson, 2008). Islands are important both as microcosms of the patterns and processes operating on continents and as distinct locations with often greater isolation and unique biodiversity. Data from the Americas, Australia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific, North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Caribbean demonstrate a deep history of maritime voyaging that suggests that for anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens), the ocean was often a pathway of human interaction and discovery rather than a major obstacle or barrier

learn more ( Anderson et al., 2010a, Erlandson, 2001, Erlandson, 2010a and Erlandson, 2010b). In other cases, ocean currents, winds, and other processes can influence travel across the waters surrounding islands ( Fitzpatrick and Anderson, 2008 and Fitzpatrick, 2013). Understanding when humans first occupied islands is important for understanding the geography and ramifications of ancient human environmental interactions. Here we outline

the antiquity of island colonization in major island groups around the world to contextualize our Selleck SB203580 discussion of Polynesia, the Caribbean, and California. The earliest evidence for island colonization by hominins may be from Flores in Southeast Asia, which appears to have been colonized by Homo erectus 800,000 or more years ago ( Morwood et al., 1998 and Morwood ROS1 et al., 2004). Evidence for maritime voyaging and island colonization is very limited, however, until after anatomically modern humans spread out of Africa about 70,000–60,000 years ago ( Erlandson, 2010a and Erlandson, 2010b). Australia and New Guinea were colonized roughly 45,000–50,000 years ago ( O’Connell et al., 2010 and O’Connor, 2010) in migrations requiring multiple sea voyages up to 80–90 km long. Several island groups in Southeast Asia were also settled between about 45,000 and 30,000 years ago, and some of these early maritime peoples appear to have had significant marine fishing capabilities ( O’Connor, 2010 and O’Connor et al., 2011). Additional long sea voyages were required for humans to colonize the Bismarck Archipelago in western Melanesia between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago ( Erlandson, 2010a).

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