The First Boat People concerns how people travelled across the world to Australia in the Pleistocene. It traces movement from Africa to Australia, offering a new view of population growth at that time, challenging current ideas, and underscoring problems with the 'Out of Africa' theory of how modern humans emerged. The variety of routes, strategies and opportunities that could have been used by those first migrants is proposed against the very different regional geography that existed at that time. Steve Webb shows the impact of human entry into Australia on the megafauna using fresh evidence from his work in Central Australia, including a description of palaeoenvironmental conditions existing there during the last two glaciations. He argues for an early human arrival and describes in detail the skeletal evidence for the first Australians. This is a stimulating account for students and researchers in biological anthropology, human evolution and archaeology.
STEVE WEBB is Professor of Australian Studies at Bond University, in Queensland, Australia. He has previously carried out a pioneering palaeopathological study of Aboriginal health patterns prior to European colonisation, and has previously published Paleopathology of Aboriginal Australians (1995; ISBN 0521 460441). His research now concentrates on Australian regional human evolution, reasons for the extinction of Australia's megafauna, Upper Pleistocene migration and the earliest human settlement of the continent. His particular focus is on palaeoenvironmental change accompanying the last two glaciations in Central Australia to understand more fully megafaunal extinction in the region, and the timing of the first human entry into Australia.