Fossil Homo Sapiens Finger From Saudi Desert Is 90000 Years Old

Fossil Homo Sapiens Finger From Saudi Desert Is 90000 Years Old

Fossil Homo Sapiens Finger From Saudi Desert Is 90000 Years Old

"These dried lake beds are being exposed by the moving sand dunes, so they're just literally lying on the surface, it's just a matter of looking around and seeing what we can find", Dr Louys said.

The team recognised the bone as human on sight, and later confirmed this by comparing it to finger bones of other humans, extinct hominins like Neanderthals, and other primates such as gorillas. Following the fossil's discovery in 2016, the scientists spent two years subjecting it to rigorous tests determining its age and confirming that it did, indeed, belong to a member of the Homo sapiens species. The results put the age of the finger bone at about 88,000 years old - a figure backed up by dating of the associated sediments and animal fossils.

Dr Maria Martinon-Torres, director of the National Research Center on Human Evolution in Spain, said: "With the finding in Al Wusta I would say that presence of Homo sapiens in Asia before 50,000-60,000 years ago is out of doubt, and we can now move on to the next questions: how and why modern humans left Africa and why they took so long to enter Europe".

Findings show that humans first emerged in Africa 260,000 to 350,000 years ago.

In previous discoveries, human fossils in north Africa have been dated to 310,000 years ago, while a fossilised human jaw bone uncovered in Israel goes back 180,000 years. But at what point people traveled farther than that has been hard to pin down.

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Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History discovered the fossilized finger bone of an early modern human that dates back almost 90,000 years.

Previously, it was believed that early migrations were limited to the Levant and any attempts to go further into Eurasia were unsuccessful. But 90,000 years ago, there would have been a large river and an extensive fertile area that welcomed plants, animals and even humans.

Survey and mapping of the Al Wusta site.

People may have settled Arabia at this early date because it was an appealing place to live.

The small (just one inch, or 3.3 cm, long) bone was found at the site of Al Wusta, an ancient fresh-water lake located in what is now the hyper-arid desert.

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But no bones had been found that definiteively predated the migration outside Africa and the Levant - until now.

"And that makes sense when you think these guys are making [and using] stone tools so they're really using their hands to do a lot of hard, manual labour". Scientists previously thought Homo sapiens departed Africa in a single, rapid migration some 60,000 years ago, journeying along the coastlines and subsisting on marine resources, said anthropologist Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany.

"Did they leave Africa by travelling up the Nile, into the Sinai, and then across the Middle East to what is now Iran?" asks Stringer. A 2015 genetic study supported the northern route, but its methods were criticised.

"The Al Wusta research adds support to the notion that there were numerous, perhaps almost continuous, pulses of Homo sapiens dispersals from Africa, and that regional moist episodes may have triggered the dispersals", says Donald Henry of the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.

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