Saudi desert fossil dates back 90000 years

“The climatic shifts that the earliest members of our species must have faced shows just how tough and resilient they were,” Dr Price said

“The climatic shifts that the earliest members of our species must have faced shows just how tough and resilient they were,” Dr Price said

Now, they may have it.

A fossilised human finger bone dating to nearly 90,000 years ago has been discovered in the Saudi Arabian desert, a find researchers say points to the possibility that our species ventured towards the east far earlier than previously thought.

"A more intriguing question", says Weinstein-Evron, is whether the early humans of the Levant and of Arabia all belong to the same population, or whether they represent multiple migrations out of Africa.

Although some say it's hard to identify our species, Homo sapiens, by a single bone, the findings appear unimpeachable, says John Shea, an anthropologist at the State University of NY in Stony Brook who studies human origins, but wasn't involved in the study. "They earned this find the old-fashioned way: hard work".

The first Homo sapiens evolved in Africa as far back as 300,000 years ago, but debate still swirls about when exactly they left their birth continent.

Most present-day non-Africans can trace their ancestry to a migration out of Africa that occurred approximately 60,000 years ago.

"This discovery for the first time conclusively shows that early members of our species colonised an expansive region of south-west Asia and were not just restricted to the Levant", said Dr Groucutt.

85,000 years ago, the Al Wusta site was rich grassland covered by permanent freshwater lakes, as Arabia's climate was wetter than it is now.

"It now seems likely that early modern humans were in southern China about 100,000 years ago, and they had reached Australia by about 65,000 years ago", says Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London, UK. Others have argued there were several migrations in and out of Africa throughout this whole period.

Various creature fossils, including those of hippopotamus and small new water snails were found at Al Wusta, and bounteous stone devices made by people.

"These animals tell us that when humans were living there, it was not a desert", said first author Huw Groucutt, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford.

A view of Al Wusta, Saudi Arabia, where archaeologists found the fossilized finger of a Homo sapiens.

The single fossil finger bone of Homo sapiens - pictured from various angles - from the Al Wusta site, Saudi Arabia. Dozens of sharpened stone tools buried in the sediment hinted that it might be a special place. The analysis showed that that bone was about 87,600 years old, give or take 2,500 years. "He said, "This is a human finger, '" Groucutt recalls". It is the second bone in from the fingertip, but it's not clear which finger.

It was an intermediate phalanx, the bone between a fingertip and finger knuckle.

This fossil of an intermediate phalanx bone, 1.2 inches long, suggests our species exited Africa far earlier.

Utilizing a method called uranium arrangement dating, a laser was utilized to make infinitesimal gaps in the fossil and measure the proportion between minor hints of radioactive components.

It's a single bone from a Homo sapiens finger, and it's at least 85,000 to 90,000 years old, according to a study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Other archaeological finds, which their discoverers claim are even older, may very well be authentic but were not directly dated, said the research team.

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