Investigations into what it means to be human have often focused on attempts to uncover the earliest material traces of 'art', 'language', or technological 'complexity'. More recently, scholars have begun to argue that more attention should be paid to the ecological uniqueness of our species. A new study reviews the palaeoecological information associated with hominin dispersals into Southeast Asia and Oceania throughout the Pleistocene (1.25 Ma to 12 ka).