Fossil Homo Sapiens Finger From Saudi Desert Is 90000 Years Old

Saudi desert fossil dates back 90000 years

This finger bone (four sides shown) represents the oldest directly dated human fossil found outside of Africa and the Levant.

Researchers at Cambridge University concluded that the 3.2-centimeter finger belonged to Homo sapiens. For example, for years, we thought Homo sapiens evolved from Homo erectus in Africa 200,000 years ago-but then in 2017, scientists found bone evidence in Morocco suggesting humans may have been around as long as 300,000 years ago. "Still, I doubt whether anyone can identify a single isolated finger bone as a modern human, as opposed to any other form of hominin", such as Neandertal, he says.

Their new fossil finger bone, on the other hand, unquestionably belonged to a human and could be dated directly using radiometric technology, said the team. In addition, because the bone has mineralized into a fossil and has sat in an arid environment for thousands of years, it likely doesn't have any DNA left in it, Groucutt said. Numerous animal fossils, including those of hippopotamus and tiny fresh water snails were found at Al Wusta, as well as abundant stone tools made by humans.

But why were these African animals in Arabia at this time?

"And, of course, hunters and gatherers would have been following those animals", Petraglia said.

"The Arabian Peninsula has always been considered to be far from the main stage of human evolution", said Michael Petraglia, the project lead.

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A dark cloud lingers overhead as archaeologists survey and map the Al Wusta site.

The research team has only explored a couple of hundred lakes out of 10,000 in the region. Though measuring no more than 3cm, the finger bone has big implications for our understanding of early human history. In January, another group of researchers announced the discovery of a 194,000-year-old modern human jawbone in Israel's Misliya Cave, Live Science previously reported.

"We know that shortly after they lived, the rains failed and the area dried up".

What they found was a fossilised human finger - the middle bone of the middle finger to be exact. While the Levant was then a wooded area with winter rainfall, Al Wusta, about 400 miles (650 kilometers) away, was a grassland that received summer rain. Prior to this discovery, it was thought that early dispersals into Eurasia were unsuccessful and remained restricted to the Mediterranean forests of the Levant, on the doorstep of Africa. "This find, together with other finds in the last few years, suggest that modern humans, Homo sapiens, [were] moving out of Africa multiple times during many windows of opportunity during the last 100,000 years or so", Michael Petraglia, an archaeologist from the Max Planck Institute in Germany and an author on the paper, said in a press conference.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History have published the study in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

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