Ancient Oasis

Look: Ancient humans crossed this unlikely path for 400,000 years

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Michael Petraglia

But a majority of that region is desert.

So how did early Homo sapiens survive in such harsh, arid climates?

New research shows they may have moved in at least 5 migratory phases over 400,000 years.

A fluctuating climate helped Homo sapiens find periodic refuge in a region that was otherwise tough to weather.

Klint Janulis

Eleanor Scerri

This stone tool, which researchers call a “handaxe,” was unearthed at a site called Khall Amayshan 4. It is estimated to be about 400,000 years old.

Ian Cartwright

Stewart et. al, Quaternary Research

“The dispersal of our species from Africa into Asia was ... probably shaped by pulses of immigration when there were short windows of opportunity.”

Robin Dennell, archaeologist at the University of Exeter, writing in a related Sept. 1 Nature column.

Culture Club/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ceri Shipton

In 2018, one team uncovered a 88,000-year-old fossilized Homo sapien finger bone in the Nefud Desert, which shifted our understanding of ancient human migration.

The new Nature study suggests the desert may have been home to not only our species but other early hominins as well.

Neanderthals, who are known to have been present in the northern Levant, could have mingled in the desert with Homo sapiens.


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