Finger bone discovery believed to be from the oldest modern human found in Arabia—10 April 2018

Two Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellows based at Griffith University have played a key role in the team behind new research published in Nature Ecology and Evolution that describes the discovery of a fossil human finger bone at the site of Al Wusta, an ancient freshwater lake located in what is now the hyper-arid Nefud Desert, in Saudi Arabia.

The fossil has been directly dated to approximately 90,000 years ago, which makes it among the oldest modern human remains found outside Africa and the Levant.

The work, led by Dr Huw Groucutt the University of Oxford and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, involved an international team of researchers from Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Australia. Professor Rainer Grün, a Discovery Projects grant recipient and Future Fellows Dr Julien Louys and Dr Mathieu Duval of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (ARCHE) at Griffith University were key participants in this international effort.

This new discovery is challenging existing notions of modern human dispersal out of Africa, which was thought to have only occurred approximately 60,000 years ago based on genetic data.

Media issued by Griffith University.


Image: fossil Homo sapiens finger bone from the Al Wusta site, Saudi Arabia.
Credit: Ian Cartwright

Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, April 10, 2018