Congratulations to Huw Groucutt and Eleanor Scerri, post-docs at the School of Archaeology, who are part of a team of researchers whose paper in Nature: Ecology & Evolution demonstrates that Homo sapiens reached Al Wusta, a site in Saudi Arabia, by 85ka years ago. The evidence from Al Wusta shows that the early dispersals of H. sapiens out of Africa were not limited to the Levantine woodlands sustained by winter rainfall, but extended deep into the Arabian interior where enhanced summer rainfall created semi-arid grasslands containing abundant fauna and perennial lakes. This finding challenges previous models of expansion out of Africa that hold that early dispersal occurred between ~130-90ka, which reached only the Eastern Mediterranean and Levant, whereas Eurasia to Sahul were only reached between ~60-50ka. The study was recently published in Nature: Ecology & Evolution. Read it here.
Image: a, Photographs in (left column, top to bottom) distal, palmar and proximal views, and (middle row, left to right) lateral 1, dorsal and lateral 2 views. b,c, Micro-computed tomography cross-sections (illustrated at ×2 magnification) 54% from the proximal end (b) and illustrating abnormal bone (c). [After Figure 2]
Listen to Huw discussing this incredible discovery with BBC Radio 5 Live
Read about it in the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43700703
Read about it in the Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/09/ancient-fragment-finger-bone-suggests-humans-travelled-east/
Read about it in National Geographic: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/saudi-arabia-finger-human-migration-homo/
Read about it in Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/human-finger-bone-points-early-exodus-out-africa