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Early migrations from Africa did not require adaptation to extreme environmental conditions

A new study, led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History suggests that early hominin dispersals beyond Africa did not involve adaptations to environmental extremes. The discovery of stone tools and cut-marks on fossil animal remains at the site of Ti's al Ghadah provides definitive evidence for hominins in Saudi Arabia at least 100,000 years earlier than hitherto known. Stable isotope analysis of the fossil fauna indicates a dominance of grassland vegetation, with aridity levels similar to those found in open savanna settings in eastern Africa today.

Studies of early and late scatterings of hominin populations beyond Africa are vital for understanding the course of global human evolution and what it means to be human. Although the species that make up the genus Homo are regularly termed 'human', this evolutionary group, which appeared in Africa around 3 million years ago, is very diverse.

It has lately been reasoned that early Homo sapiens engaged a diversity of extreme environments, comprising deserts, tropical rain-forests, arctic, and high-altitude settings, around the world.

In spite of its crucial geographic position at the crossroads between Africa and Eurasia, the Arabian Peninsula has been astoundingly absent from discussions about early human expansions until recently. The research team found stone tools alongside evidence for the butchery of animals on bones, confirming a hominin presence in link with these animals 500,000 to 300,000 years ago.


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