Published On: Thu, Apr 12th, 2018

Homo sapiens spread to Asia earlier than once believed

This specimen (viewed in the picture from four angles) is the middle phalanx of a human middle finger. It was collected from the Nefud desert of Saudi Arabia by Huw Groucutt of Oxford University and his colleagues. In a paper just published in Nature Ecology & Evolution they report that uranium-thorium isotopic dating suggests it is 88,000 years old—a time when the Nefud was a semi-arid grassland much less hostile than it is now. The date is significant because, except for a few excursions along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, there was no previous evidence of Homo sapiens having left Africa before about 60,000 years ago. That exodus, DNA shows, led to the populating of Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas. Dr Groucutt’s discovery implies that the early non-African history of Homo sapiens was more complex than previously known. It also suggests that it might be worth re-examining other old bones which some think are evidence of similar early non-Africans.

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Homo sapiens spread to Asia earlier than once believed