Chapter 15 Question Set

1. List the physical and human features make Australia "stand out from all of the other continents?
"driest, smallest, flattest, most infertile, climatically most unpredictable, and biologically most impoverished continent. ...last continent to be occupied by Europeans."  Before that it had the smallest, most distinctive human populations. 

2.  List at least 5 questions that Diamond intends to answer in this chapter?
1. Did this most distinctive environment cause the evolution of the distinctive human societies?
2. Anatomically modern humans may have settled Australia before western Europe.  Why did Europeans end up conquering Australia rather than vice versa?
3. How could two such different cultures exist across a strait only 10 miles wide?
4. Why had native NG people not advanced as far as Europeans?
5. Why were native Australians living in the Stone Age when Europeans arrived?
 
3. What is the common, non-PC, characterization of "Native Australian societies"?
Backwards.  "The most miserable people of the world, and the human beings who approach closest to brute beasts."
: "no farming, herding, metal, substantial bldgs, settled villages, writing, chiefdoms.."
 
4.  When were New Guinea and Australia connected?  During Pleistocene Ice Ages Why? cooler temperatures lowered sea level and the shallow Anafura Sea disappeared
 
5. How did New Guinean and Australian societies differ?
New Guinean: farmers living in settled villages organized into tribes; higher population densities
Australia: migrating hunters and gatherers; low population density 
 
6.  When did New Guinea and Australia become inhabited by humans?  at least 40,000 years ago From where? SE Asia By what means?
Island hopping through Indonesian archipelago.
 
7. What evidence suggests that after the initial wave of migration into New Guinea and Australia these populations remained isolated for thousands of years? Lack of archeological evidence for crossings after 40,000 years ago. Lack of relationship between NG and Aus languages with those of Asia; divergence in genetic code, blood type and physical anthropology 
 
8.  When did New Guinea and Australia become separate land masses?  10,000 years ago.
 
9. Summarize the environmental differences between New Guinea and Australia.  Be specific and thorough.
NG: equatorial, rugged mountains, wet, modest seasonality, young fertile volcanic soil, greater density of plant and animal species
Aus: low and flat, arid, highly seasonal with greatest annual variations of any continent, old infertile soil
 
10. In which physical environment(s) did agriculture emerge in Greater Australia? highland valleys of NG
 
Review New Guinea's introduced and indigenous food crops.  You learned about these in the 3rd question set.
sugar cane, leafy vegetables, edible grass stems, bananas , taro
 
11.  What evidence suggests that New Guinea experienced a population explosion that lasted at least until the 1930s?
widespread deforestation of highland valleys
 
12. List several reasons that explain why New Guinea's population explosion didn't lead to the development of metal tools, states, and epidemic diseases?
low protein dietary staples, no source of animal power, no immunity to epidemic diseases, limited areas suitable for agriculture and dense populations, agriculture was restricted to one elevational zone so no elevational exchanges, small fragmented isolated populations, geographic isolation 
 
13. What is the evidence for New Guinea's long history of political fragmentation? highest concentration of languages in the world
 
14.  What are the reasons that Native Australians did not develop agriculture?  Use the following terms in your answer: extinctions, ENSO, domesticable plants.
large diprotodons were extinguished
paucity of wild domesticable plants
infertile soils and irregular nonannual cycle of ENSO would have hindered farming
 
15. How was nomadism a "sensible" adaptation?
Deterioration of local conditions because of ENSO made migration a necessity
 
16. How did "firestick farming" work? What were other subsistence strategies?
increased production of edible plants and animals with periodic burning
cycad seed gathering, eel fishing in canals in marshes
 
17. So, "Why didn't Australia develop metal tools, writing, and politically complex societies?
because they remained hunter-gatherers at low population and low population densities with limited exchanges between individual societies
 
18.  What factors explain Australia's technological regression? isolation and low population
 
19.  Why did Australia remain isolated for 40,000 years?  Potential migrants did not settle in Australia, they only visited seasonally
 
20.  Why didn't significant diffusion occur across the Torres Strait? New Guineans on islands near Torres Strait were marginal.  They did not have much to offer.
 
21. Why did European settlement fail in New Guinea and not in Australia? 
malaria and other tropical diseases hindered Europeans in the lowlands.  Europeans did not reach the highlands initially.
 
22. Why didn't New Guineans suffer epidemics of diseases introduced by Europeans?
No permanent settlements of pathogen-bearing Europeans in the highlands until after 1930s.  By then Europeans understood disease spread and medicine was available to prevent disease outbreaks.
 
23. How did Europeans thrive in Australia?  And, why did Aborigines fare much worse than New Guineans?
Eastern, mid-latitude Australia was suitable for permanent settlement of farming Europeans.  This exposed Aborigines to crowd diseases.