The Arabian Peninsula was a vital gateway for our ancient human ancestors to spill out of Africa and into Asia and Europe.
But a majority of that region is desert.
So how did early Homo sapiens survive in such harsh, arid climates?
A fluctuating climate helped Homo sapiens find periodic refuge in a region that was otherwise tough to weather.
Researchers writing in a September 1 report in the journal Nature describe stone tools and animal fossils found in the Nefud Desert in northern Saudi Arabia. These point to early human habitation.
Stewart et. al, Quaternary Research
Archeological sites in the Nefud were once home to ancient lakes and have earned recent archaeological interest.
“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
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.
Neanderthals, who are known to have been present in the northern Levant, could have mingled in the desert with Homo sapiens.
GifNews via Giphy
But much remains to be uncovered — literally — about when and where our ancient ancestors lived.
Read more stories about science here.
Jaromir Chalabala / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images