The discovery of an 88,000-year-old fossilised human finger in Saudi Arabia is rewriting the history of the first human migration out of Africa. By this method, the researchers estimate the fossil is around 88,000 years old.
"But now, with the fossil finger bone from the site of Al Wusta in Saudi Arabia, we have a find that's 85,000 to 90,000 years old, which suggests that Homo sapiens is moving out of Africa far earlier than 60,000 years ago", Petraglia told reporters at a news conference. The researchers found at least 860 animal bones, and the most common were water-loving animals like hippos and buffalo. Taken together, these clues are evidence that early human migrations were likely more frequent than previously thought, and that these ancestors traveled to a broader range of destinations than scientists realized.
But the tantalizing discoveries of 100,000-year-old stone tools found in the mountains of Oman and decidedly human fossils in the Israeli Levant dating to 177,000 to 194,000 years ago forced anthropologists to consider the possibility of earlier migrations. "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", said lead author Dr. Huw Groucutt, of the University of Oxford and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
The outcomes definitively demonstrated that the finger bone, the principal antiquated human fossil found in Arabia, had a place with our own particular species.
Our species first appeared in Africa roughly 300,000 years ago. As such, the findings suggest that not only were early humans more geographically dispersed than we used to think, they were also successfully adapting to new environments - a huge step forward in our species' quest for global domination.
Nevertheless, many archaeologists believe the Levant was a bottleneck and that humans did not travel further until 70,000 years ago.
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The age of the fossil was dated using a technique called uranium series dating, which involves etching microscopic holes in the fossil with a laser and measuring the ratio between tiny traces of radioactive elements.
Some of these discoveries relate to genetic analyses that show humans interbred with groups like the Denisovans and Neanderthals. In other cases, tools, artwork, remains that haven't yet been dated, support the idea that Homo sapiens ventured out earlier. Teeth found in Chinese caves have been dated to between 80,000 and 120,000 years, although the dates are based on the caves' stalagmites, not the teeth themselves.
"The climatic shifts that the earliest members of our species must have faced shows just how tough and resilient they were", Dr Price said.
"It's quite a significant discovery because it confirms what we were expecting", co-author Mathieu Duval from Griffith University's Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (ARCHE) explained to Xinhua. Different dates got from related creatures fossils and residue met to a date of around 90,000 years back. There could have been many early human migrations, not just the major one and one potential earlier one.
"Tracing the evolution and geographic dispersal of the human lineage is rather like connecting pitifully few dots on a vast three-dimensional grid of time and space", Henry wrote in an essay that accompanies the study.