For the Tasmanians in many ways closely approximated to the Papuan type.
Yet while the Tasmanians are so distinctly separated in physique and customs from the Australians, the fauna and flora of Tasmania and Australia prove that at one time the two formed one continent, and it would take an enormous time for the formation of Bass Strait.
How did the Tasmanians with their Papuan affinities get so far south on a continent inhabited by a race so differing from Papuans?
Four points are clear: (i) the Australians represent a distinct race; (2) they have no kinsfolk among the neighbouring races; (3) they have occupied the continent for a very long period; (4) it would seem that the Tasmanians must represent a still earlier occupation of Australia, perhaps before the Bass Strait existed.
Ling Roth, The Tasmanians, (2nd ed., 1899); R.
Ii.; Papers and Proceedings of Royal Society of Tasmania; and papers by the present writer in Journal of the Anthropological Institute.) The Tasmanians, when they came in contact with the European explorers and settlers, were not the broken outcasts they afterwards became.
The pictorial art of the Tasmanians was poor and childish, quite below that of the Palaeolithic men of Europe.
The Tasmanians spoke a fairly copious agglutinating language, well marked as to parts of speech, syntax and inflexion.
The religion of the Tasmanians, when cleared from ideas apparently learnt from the whites, was a simple form of animism based on the shadow (warrawa) being the soul or spirit.
But when we meet with a casual remark as to the tendency of the Tasmanians to take wives from other tribes than their own, it seems likely that they had some custom of exogamy which the foreigners did not understand.
Several of the above practices are common to the Australians, who, though generally inferior, have many points of resemblance (osteological and other) with Papuans, to whom the extinct Tasmanians were still more closely allied.