Oldest 'Homo sapiens' fossil in Asia found in Saudi Arabia

Oldest 'Homo sapiens' fossil in Asia found in Saudi Arabia

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The Homo sapiens migrations they are more complex than we thought. Both the dates of the beginning of their journey around the world and the paths that our ancestors undertook are disproved with each of the fossils that are found.

Until now it was thought that the human exodus out of Africa occurred between 130,000 and 90,000 years ago, and that they reached Eurasia about 60,000 years ago.

[Tweet "The finding in Saudi Arabia supports the hypothesis that the first migrations had a greater geographic extension than previously thought."]

This hypothesis was already questioned with the discovery of a jaw fragment from 200,000 to 175,000 years ago in the Mislyia cave in Israel, which advanced the departure of modern humans from Africa by about 60,000.

Now, the discovery in Saudi Arabia of a modern human fossil, the oldest in Asia at about 90,000 years old, supports the hypothesis that the first migrations out of Africa had a greater geographic extension than previously thought.

Read: Saudi Arabia, key point in human evolution

“Traditionally, it was believed that modern humans migrated from Africa in a single wave and moved through Eurasia rapidly 60,000 years ago. Instead, we believe there were many opportunities for hunter-gatherers to migrate out of Africa for various periods of time, ”he points out to Sync Michael Petraglia, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Germany) and lead author of the study published by Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The research team, in which the National Center for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH) has participated, has discovered a phalanx of about 3 cm in the Al Wusta site, an ancient freshwater lake located in what is now the desert of Nefud.

“The dating of the finger has been carried out with uranium series method and the 90,000 year result makes it the oldest Homo sapiens fossil dated directly outside of Africa and the Levantine Corridor [the strip between the Mediterranean, Israel, Jordan and Syria] ”, explains Mathieu Duval, researcher at the Australian Research Center for Human Evolution at Griffith University (Australia), who has carried out the resonance dating Electronic paramagnetic in the CENIEH laboratories.

Before this discovery, hypotheses suggested that the first dispersions in Eurasia were unsuccessful and they were limited to the forests of the eastern Mediterranean, at the gates of Africa. But nevertheless, the find at Al Wusta shows that there were multiple dispersals outside Africa and these extended beyond what was known before.

“The theory of the exit from Africa in its original approach has become obsolete. Homo sapiens has been outside of Africa and the Levant for more than 80,000 years. Now we want to know the routes, the reasons for their trip and what was the destination of the first explorers of our species ”, says María Martinón Torres, director of CENIEH.

A humid and rich region

According to the researchers, so far the Arabian peninsula was not part of the story of the modern human's departure from Africa. “Most theories suggested that humans moved north, the Levant or south, using the shores of the Indian Ocean to migrate to Australia. The Al Wusta fossil convincingly shows that none of the models is correct ”, the anthropologist concludes.

[Tweet "#History - Humans migrated from Africa to Arabia, probably following and hunting mammals, such as wild cattle and gazelles, as they moved."]

Homo sapiens actually also used a land route when they migrated into the interior of Arabia and the rest of Asia. About 90,000 years ago, migrations coincided with a humid period in which rivers and lakes predominated in that region. Thus, the Arabian peninsula must have been a grassland area with many animals to hunt and with a large supply of fresh drinking water.

"Humans migrated from Africa to Arabia, probably following and hunting mammals, such as wild cattle and gazelles, as they moved," Petraglia explains to Sinc. At the site, scientists also found animals of the same age, including hippopotamuses and tiny freshwater snails, as well as abundant human-made stone tools.

In fact, the finger, which belonged to an adult Homo sapiens, had a slight malformation in the bone, probably caused by the mechanical stress exerted on your hand to make stone tools. "These utensils are reminiscent of those made by Homo sapiens in Africa, thus establishing a close connection between Africa and Arabia", concludes the expert.

Via Sync

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