First Footprints Part 2
The second episode covers Australia’s ice age between 25,000 and 13,000 BC. Unlike prehistoric Europeans, who migrated to south during their ice age, indigenous Australians found ingenious ways to survive both the cold and the most severe drought in human history.
Both cave paintings and fossil remains indicate that indigenous Australians were hunting gigantic megafauna (massive kangaroos twice the size of humans and giant crocodiles, lizards and marsupial bears) prior to the Australian ice age. Scientists believe it was more likely the ice age that wiped them out than early aborigines.
Although temperatures reached as low as 20 degrees below zero, up until 15,000 BC early Australians (and the prey they hunted) accessed water via lakes from from glacial melt. After the lakes dried up, they compiled an extensive record (referred to as “the law” or “dreaming*” and transmitted orally and via cave drawings) of where to locate underground water in the desert and when it would be there.
Fossil records suggest indigenous Australians underwent a major dietary change during their ice age, shifting from from fruit and macropods (kangaroos, wallabies and related mammals) to reptiles, bush tomatoes and a kind of bread they made from grinding grass seed.
*Dreaming refers to a complex cultural phenomena in which aboriginals connect with their Spirit Ancestors though stories, ceremony and art to preserve the essential knowledge they need to survive.