Previous to the existence of the strait, and across its site, there poured into Australia a wealth of Papuan forms. Along the Pacific slope of the Queensland Cordillera these found in soil and climate a congenial home.
Again, while they differ physically from neighbouring races, while there is practically nothing in common between them and the Malays, the Polynesians, or the Papuan Melanesians, they agree in type so closely among themselves that they must be regarded as forming one race.
For the Tasmanians in many ways closely approximated to the Papuan type.
How did the Tasmanians with their Papuan affinities get so far south on a continent inhabited by a race so differing from Papuans?
Why should a Papuan type be found in what was certainly once a portion of the Australian continent?
That the continent was first inhabited by a Papuan type of man who made his way thither from Flores and Timor, New Guinea and the Coral Sea.
It is difficult to believe that they at first arrived in such numbers as at once to overwhelm the Papuan population.
In the north of Australia there are traces of Malay and Papuan blood.
Australian Region Australian Papuan Antillean (B) Neogaea or II.
(A) Austrogaea, the Australian region in the wider sense,with the Papuan, Australian and New Zealand subregions, including also Polynesia.
The Papuan Subregion, chiefly New Guinea with its dependencies, the Timor group of islands, the Moluccas and Celebes.
That they were not indigenous, but had displaced an earlier Melanesian or Papuan race, the true aborigines, is certain.
If earlier immigrants from Samoa or other eastern Pacific islands arrived they must have become absorbed into the native Papuan population - arguing from the absence of any distinct tradition earlier than that "of the six canoes."
Some have sought to find in the Morioris of Chatham Island the remnants of this Papuan-Polynesian population, expelled by Te Kupe and his followers.
The extraordinary ruined fortifications found, and the knowledge of the higher art of war displayed by the Maoris, suggest (what is no doubt the fact) that there was a hard fight for them when they first arrived, but the greatest resistance must have been from the purer Papuan inhabitants, and not from the half-castes who were probably easily overwhelmed.
There is the true Kei Islander, a Polynesian by his height and black or brown wavy hair, with a complexion between the Papuan black and the Malay yellow.
There is the pure Papuan, who has been largely merged in the Kei type.
They are Melanesians of mixed blood, of two fairly distinct types, one sub-Papuan and the other Polynesian.
The natives are of mixed Malay-Papuan blood.
They consist of the Sirani or Christian descendants of the Portuguese, of Malays, with a Papuan element, Galela men from the north of Halmahera, immigrants from Celebes, with some Chinese and Arabs.
The most recent lists record over 500 species as found in the Papuan area, and of these between 50 and 60 genera are peculiar to it.
The species of birds so far described from it number 178 (referable to 38 families), of which 74 are peculiar to it, though closely allied to Papuan forms. It contains, however, no Paradiseidae.
Ceratochelys insculpta of the Fly river, a chelonian peculiar to New Guinea, is remarkable in having its nearest affinities (as have the Papuan tortoises) with South American species.
But the Torres Straits islanders are employed by Europeans in the pearl shell fishery, and are good labourers; and in some of the Kei and Aru Islands the Papuan inhabitants form orderly Christian communities.
The four Papuan kingships, Waigeu, Salawatti, Misol and Waigamma on Misol Island) and certain islands or points on the north-west coast of New Guinea.
By an agreement of 1879 the sultan exercises authority over some parts of Halmahera, the Papuan Islands, the western half of New Guinea and the islands in Geelvink Gulf.
Whether the two families have a common ancestor in the negritos of Malaysia and the Indian archipelago, or whether Papuan and Negrito are alike branches of an aboriginal African race, is a problem yet to be solved.
The traditions of many of the Polynesian islanders refer to a black indigenous race which occupied their islands when their ancestors arrived, and the black woolly-haired Papuan type is not only found to-day in Melanesia proper, but traces of it occur throughout Polynesia and Micronesia.
The Micronesians then are probably of Malay stock much modified by early Polynesian crossings, and probably, within historic times, by Papuan and even Japanese and Chinese migrations.
Niger are really indigenous members of this group or modified descendants of European tame pigs is doubtful; although the general character of the Papuan fauna supports the idea that they are introduced.
The Javan Pithechirus has the thumb opposable, while the Papuan Chiruromys has the tip of the tail naked above and prehensile.
The pure Papuan seems to be confined to the north-western part of New Guinea, and possibly the interior.
The typical Papuan is distinctly tall, far exceeding the average Malay height, and is seldom shorter, often taller, than the European.
The Papuan woman, who is, as a rule, more modest than the Polynesian, is the household drudge, and does the greater part of the outdoor work, but the man assists in clearing new gardens and in digging and planting the soil.
The Papuan varies his vegetable diet with the flesh of the wild pig, wallabi and other small animals, which are hunted with dogs.
The male Papuan is usually naked save for a loin-cloth made of the bark of the Hibiscus, Broussonetia and other plants, or a girdle of leaves.
The Papuan loves personal adornment and loses no chance of dressing himself up. His chief home-made ornaments are necklaces, armlets and ear-rings of shells, teeth or fibre, and cassowary, cockatoo, or bird of paradise feathers - the last two, or a flower, are worn through the septum of the nose.
With his head encircled by a coronet of dogs teeth, and covered with a network cap or piece of bark-cloth, the septum of the nose transfixed by a pencil of bone or shell, and perhaps a shell or fibre armlet or two, the Papuan is in complete everyday attire.
The Papuan comb is characteristic. This is a long piece of bamboo split at one end into prongs, while the other projects beyond the forehead sometimes two feet or more, and into it are stuck the bright feathers of parrots and other birds.
Nearly all Papuan houses are built in Malay fashion on piles, and this not only on the coast but on the hillsides.
Papuan weapons are the bow and arrow (in the Fly River region, the north and north-east coasts); a beheading knife of a sharp segment of bamboo; a shafted stone club - rayed, disk shaped or ball-headed (in use all over the island); spears of various forms, pointed and barbed; the spear-thrower (on the Finsch coast); and hardwood clubs and shields, widely differing in pattern and ornamentation with the district of their manufacture.
The Papuan bow is rather short, the arrows barbed and tipped with cassowary or human bone.