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Ancient human footprints found in Saudi Arabia

Christian Fernsby ▼ | September 21, 2020
Situated between Africa and Eurasia, the Arabian Peninsula is an important yet understudied region for understanding human evolution across the continents.
Human footprints
Ancient   Human footprints
Recent research highlighting the role of the Arabian Peninsula in human prehistory shows that humans repeatedly dispersed into the peninsula's interior at times when its harsh deserts were transformed into lush grasslands.

However, the nature and timing of these dispersals have remained elusive, due to a scarcity of datable material and poor-resolution paleoecological data associated with evidence for humans.

In a new study published in Science Advances, researchers from the Max Planck Institutes for Chemical Ecology (MPI-CE) and the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) in Jena, Germany and Royal Holloway University of London, UK, together with a team of international partners, describe a large assemblage of fossilized footprints discovered in an ancient lake deposit in Saudi Arabia's Nefud Desert.

The footprints, dated to roughly 120 thousand-years-ago, include those of humans, elephants and horses, among other animals.

These findings represent the earliest dated evidence for human movements into this part of the world, contemporary with well-known human dispersals from Africa to the Levant.

In addition, it appears that the movements and landscape use patterns of humans and large mammals were tightly linked, perhaps in response to dry conditions and diminishing water supplies.


 

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