The finger bone in a prehistoric lake district in Saudi Arabia challenges the idea that modern humans have not left Africa until 60,000 years ago.
More than 85,000 years ago, the Arabian peninsula looked much different from the broad, sandy width people see today.
The region is a lush grassland with periodic greenery and hundreds of freshwater ponds in every rainy season. The researchers found here evidence of half-water mammals, such as water birds and water fauna, that are more associated with the African continent. They also found stone tools pointing to early human existence on the peninsula, but no direct fossil evidence of human existence was found; up to now
According to a recent dated survey, a single human fingerbone discovered in Saudi Arabia in an ancient lake district named Al Wusta in 2016 dates back to about 88,000 years ago.
Archaeologists have begun to look at satellite images to prove the freshwater masses of prehistoric images of the region in order to find the remains of the old and greener past of Saudi Arabia.
Michael Petraglia, head writer of the study at the Max Planck Institute, said: "We found 10,000 ancient lakes in Arabia. We have visited about 200, and about 80% have archaeological evidence. "
According to Petraglia, most of the lakes of the region were seasonal, periodically shrinking in dry seasons, and growing up again during the monsoon season.
However, Al Wusta was a fresh water source that was full year round. According to co-writer Huw Groucutt of the research, archaeologists Al Wusta found hundreds of pieces of stone tools in the lake.
Early exit from Africa
It is a matter of debate between archaeologists and paleoanthropologists when people are starting to leave Africa. Many say that there is no reliable evidence for mass migration to northern and eastern Africa until 60,000 years ago.
In 2007, Petraglia claimed that modern humans were as far east as India 74,000 years ago. Petraglia says, "I participated in discussions that lasted for 10 years."
"We were advocating Homo sapiens to South Asia before this date. This belief was based on stone tools, but I could not support it with fossils. "
In 2014, Petraglia identified some places on the Arabian Peninsula.
As an old green area that can support hunter-gatherers, it theorized that it could be a natural stepping stone outside of Africa.
The first human fossils in Morocco proved the existence of people in western Africa 300,000 years ago. But there were very few fossils outside the continent 60,000 years ago. Later, in January, a 180,000-year-old human jawbone was found in Israel.
Both Petraglia and Groucutt say that the human finger bones in Saudi Arabia point to geographically diverse human migrations, as previously estimated.
Groucutt, "We went to hundreds of different archaeological sites in Arabia, and there were almost all stone tools. You can not go out without finding stone tools. The real challenge was finding a place full of human remains. "
The research team knows very little about the 2-3cm fingers. Whether it is a man or a woman, the age of this person can not be determined without further evidence.
The anthropologist John Hawks clarifies his doubt, "I do not think that this finger bone belongs to a modern man, just enough to say it out of a bone." "So it is too early to say that this is evidence of modern human propagation."
"I think it is clear that we should make more discoveries on the Arabian Peninsula."
More finding might happen
Petraglia acknowledges that Saudi Arabia, which has recently provided new access for foreign scientists, will offer great potential for more important discoveries.
"Every time we come here we are making a new discovery. We have huge plans to do this in the old lakes and we will expand our work to the cave. This is a kind of gold mine. "
National Geographic. April 9, 2018.
Article : Huw S. Groucutt, Rainer Grün, Michael D. Petraglia et all. 2018. Homo sapiens in Arabia by 85,000 years ago. Nature Ecology and Evolution.