90,000-year-old human finger bone found in Saudi Arabia could rewrite the history of our species


A finger bone fragment discovered in Saudi Arabia’s Nefud Desert could rewrite the history of our species.

The fragment dates back around 90,000 years, and is the oldest directly dated Homo sapiens fossil outside of Africa.

The finding, which was made by researchers from the University of Oxford, indicates that early migrations from Africa into Eurasia were more expansive than thought.

Researchers discovered the bone at the Al Wusta site – an ancient fresh-water lake in the Nefud Desert.

Researchers discovered the bone at the Al Wusta site – an ancient fresh-water lake in the Nefud Desert

Alongside the human bone, the researchers also found several animal fossils, as well as stone tools made by humans.

Using 3D scanning, the researchers concluded that the finger bone belonged to our own species, while uranium dating suggested that it was around 88,000 years old.

Dr Huw Groucutt, who led the study, said: “This discovery for the first time conclusively shows that early members of our species colonized an expansive region of southwest Asia and were not just restricted to the Levant.

“The ability of these early people to widely colonize this region casts doubt on long held views that early dispersals out of Africa were localized and unsuccessful.”

The finding suggests that the modern desert in the Arabian Peninsula were once lush grasslands where humans lived

The finding suggests that the modern desert in the Arabian Peninsula were once lush grasslands where humans lived.

Professor Michael Petraglia, Project Lead, said: “The Arabian Peninsula has long been considered to be far from the main stage of human evolution.

“This discovery firmly puts Arabia on the map as a key region for understanding our origins and expansion to the rest of the world.

“As fieldwork carries on, we continue to make remarkable discoveries in Saudi Arabia.”



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