The previous account of a Homo sapiens migration timeline firmly puts early man’s first movement out of the African continent at about 60 or 70 thousand years ago. This is known as the “Out of Africa” theory. However other theories involving studying genetic material from different sources (looking particularly at the mutations within the DNA genetic code), and the recent find in Saudi Arabia, are shedding new light on an earlier time frame than previously thought.
Paleoanthropologists found an intermediate phalanx, the middle section of a human finger. Archeaologists say that this proves that humans once ventured beyond Africa, spreading farther and faster than previously thought timeline suggests. This new evidence is the earliest human fossil found outside Africa or the Levant (greater Syria) dating back 87 000 years.
How could humans possibly have survived in this harsh desert landscape?
Towards the end of the Paleolithic era, due to climate change, monsoons ravaged this area of the Nafud Desert, Al-Wusta. Based on evidence gathered from sediment and animal bones found in area in which the fossil was found, this settlement was the on the shore of a shallow lake providing the necessary water source for Homo sapiens.
There is debate among paleoanthropologists over the timing and routes taken by early humans. Its centres around this area and whether or not it was a part of one long wave of human migration or a series of fits and starts that happened due to shifting climate in the area.
One thing paleoanthropologists and archeaologists agree on, is that this area of the Arabian Penisula is – so far – mostly unexplored by them. Which means this particular section of desert landscape could unlock so many questions about our past and heritage which can help us understand early humans and their migration habits.
We’re digging this!