When human relatives first visited a green Arabian peninsula

By | November 2, 2018

Nicholas St. Fleur reports:

Buried in the Arabian desert’s sand are clues to the peninsula’s wetter, greener past. Fossils from long-extinct elephants, antelope and jaguars paint a prehistoric scene not of a barren wasteland, but of a flourishing savanna sprinkled with watering holes.

Now, scientists have found what they think is evidence of the activities of early human relatives, who lived in this ancient landscape some 300,000 to 500,000 years ago. If the findings are confirmed, the stone flakes and butchered animal bones the researchers uncovered would be evidence that early hominins — extinct members of the genus Homo, but most likely not of our species — were present in the Arabian Peninsula at least 100,000 years earlier than previously known.

The findings, which were published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, also suggest early hominins did not need any special evolutionary adaptations before they ventured out from the grasslands of Africa and into the wilds of Arabia. [Continue reading…]

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