Published: Tue, April 10, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Finger bone points to new insight on human migration

Finger bone points to new insight on human migration

"What we think is actually happening is these areas, although they were much better than they are today in terms of environmental conditions, they still would have been relatively dry, so these lakes and waterholes would have attracted all sorts of animals", Dr Louys explained.

Uranium-thorium dating - in which the age of an object is deduced by measuring the relative presence of the radioactive isotopes thorium-230 and uranium-234 - established that the fossil was 90,000 years old - making it one of the most ancient human remnants discovered outside Africa.

These proportions uncovered that the fossil was 88,000 years of age.

Archaeologists previously thought humanity's movement out of Africa was in a single, rapid wave some 60,000 years ago, study co-author Michael Petraglia, an archaeologist from Germany's Max Planck Institute, said at a news briefing.

The disclosure is the most seasoned specifically dated Homo sapiens fossil outside of Africa and the promptly neighboring Levant, and shows that early dispersals into Eurasia were more extensive than already thought.

The team found fossils of animals, including hippos, as well as advanced stone tools.

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Yet proponents of the multiple-migration hypothesis have so far lacked the archaeological equivalent of a smoking gun: a directly dated early modern human fossil found far outside Africa's borders.

It remains unclear whether the Homo sapiens at Al Wusta arrived via the Levant, by crossing the Red Sea or by going around the Red Sea's southern end - an idea supported by Donald Henry from the University of Tulsa in an accompanying article.

The bone itself was found poking out of the surface of the Al Wusta excavation site in 2016 by Iyad Zalmout, a paleontologist with the Saudi Geological Survey.

The outcomes, distributed in Nature Ecology and Evolution, detail the disclosure made at the site of Al Wusta, an antiquated new water lake situated in what is now the hyper-dry Nefud Desert.

Second, it was found in Al Wusta, a site in Saudi Arabia's Nefud desert that's hundreds of miles from the nearest coastline.

The team had been searching the Saudi Arabian desert for more than 10 years without finding human fossils. Different dates got from related creatures fossils and residue met to a date of around 90,000 years back.

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The finding indicates modern humans travelled to follow kinder climates, but they did not stay indefinitely.

This all pointed to the owner of the finger having been a member of a semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer group moving after water and animals.

The results of this study were published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. When the Saudi finger bone is combined with the teeth from China and the artifacts from Australia, "it does all fit together very neatly", Groucutt 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", Groucutt said in a statement.

"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", Groucutt said.

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