Arabian Homo Sapiens Fossil: Key Information
A new study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution shows that anatomically modern humans were living in Saudi Arabia at least 85,000 years ago, based on research from a fossil found there in 2016.
About the fossil
- The fossil is a 1.3 inch long finger bone, likely from the middle finger of an adult but it is not known if it belonged to a male or female, nor which hand it came from.
- It was identified as being from a Homo sapien after comparing a CT scan of the fossil with other species that have human-like fingers. H. sapien finger bones are quite distinct, even from archaic human species.
- The age of the fossil was determined through U-series dating of the fossil itself and through various dating techniques used on sediments near the fossil.
- It is now the oldest confirmed H. sapien fossil found outside of Africa and the Levant.
- Genetic studies suggest that all modern non-African humans are descended from H. sapiens that migrated out of Africa 60,000 years ago.
- This fossil found in Arabia is part of the small but growing archaeological evidence that shows H. sapiens had dispersed out of Africa prior to 60,000 years ago and possibly in a series of waves rather than a rapid mass exodus.
- Such evidence includes human remains found in Israel, East Asia and Australia dated between 65,000-80,000 years ago.
- One possible explanation is that these early migratory populations went extinct and were replaced by a later wave of migration.
- This fossil also sheds light on the route humans took out of Africa. It was previously thought that migration towards East Asia occurred along coastlines but this discovery suggests that H. sapiens could have traveled along inland Arabia which had semi-arid grasslands at the time.
Image created by Chronus