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Thu Sep 17, 2020, 05:36 PM

Human footprints dating back 120,000 years found in Saudi Arabia

Around 120,000 years ago in what is now northern Saudi Arabia, a small band of homo sapiens stopped to drink and forage at a shallow lake that was also frequented by camels, buffalo, and elephants bigger than any species seen today. The people may have hunted the large mammals but they did not stay long, using the watering hole as a waypoint on a longer journey.

This detailed scene was reconstructed by researchers in a new study published in Science Advances on Wednesday, following the discovery of ancient human and animal footprints in the Nefud Desert that shed new light on the routes our ancient ancestors took as they spread out of Africa. Today, the Arabian Peninsula is characterized by vast, arid deserts that would have been inhospitable to early people and the animals they hunted down.

But research over the last decade has shown this wasn't always the case -- due to natural climate variation it experienced much greener and more humid conditions in a period known as the last interglacial. "At certain times in the past, the deserts that dominate the interior of the peninsula transformed into expansive grasslands with permanent freshwater lakes and rivers," explained study co-author Richard Clark-Wilson of Royal Holloway.

In total, seven out of the hundreds of prints discovered were confidently identified as hominin, including four that, given their similar orientation, distances from one another and differences in size, were interpreted as two or three individuals traveling together. The researchers argue these belonged to anatomically modern humans, as opposed to Neanderthals, on the basis that our extinct cousins aren't known to have been present in the wider Middle East region at the time, and based on stature and mass estimates inferred from the prints.

full article at:
https://news.yahoo.com/ancient-footprints-saudi-arabia-show-180200239.html

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