The fossilized finger bone could possibly rewrite the date people trekked out of Africa to much earlier times than previously thought.
A team of archaeologists and anthropologists have uncovered a fossilized human finger bone in the Arabian Desert dating back some 88,000 years. The find, which was unearthed in 2016 in an area known as Al Wusta in the Nefud desert, could possibly rewrite the date people trekked out of Africa to much earlier times than previously thought.
The first author of the study, Dr. Huw Groucut of the University of Oxford, said the find relates perfectly with the apparent dates of previous fossils discoveries in India, East Asia and Sumatra and with artefacts in Australia dating to 65,000 years ago, as well as previous finds of stone tools in Arabia, according to The Guardian.
“The world’s top experts on human finger bones compared the precise shape of the fossil to bones from other forms of humans, for example, Neanderthals, as well as to primates. These studies clearly show that this bone belongs to a human, a member of the species like us,” says Groucutt.
He also pointed out “When humans were living there (current Saudi Arabia) 90,000 years ago, it was not a desert,” rather, lush greenlands with an abundance of animals. Remains of hippopotamuses, birds, reptiles and mammals were also discovered near the finger.
“This discovery of the fossil finger bone is like a dream come true because it supports arguments that our teams have been making for more than 10 years,” said professor Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and a co-author of the research.
“This find, together with other finds in last few years, suggests that modern humans, Homo sapiens, were moving out of Africa multiple times during many windows of opportunity during the last 100,000 years or so.”
Petraglia and Groucutt both agreed that humans migrated out of Africa on a continual, expansive basis and it occurred in multiple waves. “It’s not just an expansion and then a later re-migration out of Africa. What we’re showing is that the story is much more complicated,” Petraglia says.
Researchers claim that the find is the oldest dated fossil discovered of humans outside of Africa or its immediate vicinity in the eastern Mediterranean, according to Science.