THE endocast of a primitive hominid-like skull was recovered from among the rubble of a volcanic plug in the Bega district in May 2005.
The find could suggest that a race of ancestral hominids had evolved in Australia from tree-dwelling primate ancestors by seven million years ago. This is well before our primate ancestors supposedly left the trees for a terrestrial existence in Africa around six million years ago!
The fossil was discovered by noted prehistory researcher Rex Gilroy of Katoomba NSW, where he operates the 'Australian-Pacific Archaeological Research Centre'.
He discovered the fossil projecting from the base of a volcanic deposit while researching volcanic sites on the NSW far south coast.
The fossil, a chance discovery, further supports Rex Gilroy's belief that our Aboriginal people were preceded on this continent by earlier races, principally Homo erectus.
"The fossil was formed by fine volcanic ash filling the skull during an eruption. The ash gradually mineralised while the bones disintegrated, leaving the cast," he says.
"The remaining fossil has lost a portion of the underside and a shallow section of the skull dome is also gone, giving it a flattish appearance. The remaining endocast measures 15.7cm in length by 9cm in width across the facial section by 10cm in depth.
The height of the individual would have been hobbit size, ie around one metre," says Mr Gilroy.
As geologists have lately dated the volcanoes of the Bega region as having last erupted around 7 million years ago, this makes the 'Bega Man' the oldest known hominid skull found in the Australasian region.
On these grounds Rex Gilroy believes we should begin thinking 'Out of Australia', rather than Out of Africa for our human origins.