Researchers found a whole lot of fossilized footprints, which have been uncovered by sediment erosion, throughout a survey of an historical lake in Saudi Arabia’s Nefud Desert.
In among the many 376 historical shapes found round Alathar lake, specialists recognized animal footprints, together with prints belonging to horses, camels and elephants — notable as a result of elephants appeared to have gone extinct within the Levant about 400,000 years in the past.
However extra surprisingly, researchers stated they found seven hominin footprints, which, if confirmed, might be proof of the earliest dated proof of the human species within the Arabian Peninsula.
“We instantly realized the potential of those findings,” Mathew Stewart, one of many examine’s lead authors from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, stated in a press release.
“Footprints are a novel type of fossil proof in that they supply snapshots in time, sometimes representing a number of hours or days, a decision we have a tendency not [to] get from different data,” he added.
Researchers imagine that the footprints date to the final interglacial interval — a time which noticed humid circumstances that facilitated human and animal motion throughout a area which was in any other case comprised of deserts.
Fossil and archeological data present that these circumstances aided human migration from Africa to the Levant, researchers stated.
“It is just after the final interglacial [period] with the return of cooler circumstances that we’ve got definitive proof for Neanderthals transferring into the area,” Stewart stated. “The footprints, subsequently, almost certainly signify people, or Homo sapiens.”
After learning the footfalls, specialists imagine the dense focus of tracks suggests animals gathered across the lake on account of dry circumstances and diminishing water, whereas people may have used the realm for water and foraging.
“We all know folks visited the lake, however the lack of stone instruments or proof of the usage of animal carcasses means that their go to to the lake was solely temporary,” Stewart added.