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120,000-year-old footprints found in Saudi Arabia -- and they might be human

September 22, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Hundreds of fossilized footprints dating back 120,000 years have been discovered in Saudi Arabia, and they might point to the earliest evidence of human movement into the region, according to a new study in Science Advances.

(CNN)Hundreds of fossilized footprints dating back 120,000 years have been discovered in Saudi Arabia, and they might point to the earliest evidence of human movement into the region, according to a new study in Science Advances.

Researchers discovered hundreds of fossilized footprints, which were exposed by sediment erosion, during a survey of an ancient lake in Saudi Arabia's Nefud Desert.

In among the 376 ancient shapes discovered around Alathar lake, experts identified animal footprints, including prints belonging to horses, camels and elephants -- notable because elephants appeared to have gone extinct in the Levant about 400,000 years ago.

But more surprisingly, researchers said they discovered seven hominin footprints, which, if confirmed, could be evidence of the earliest dated evidence of the human species in the Arabian Peninsula.

Researchers believe that the footprints date to the last interglacial period -- a time which saw humid conditions that facilitated human and animal movement across a region which was otherwise comprised of deserts.

Fossil and archeological records show that these conditions aided human migration from Africa to the Levant, researchers said.

After studying the footfalls, experts believe the dense concentration of tracks suggests animals gathered around the lake as a result of dry conditions and diminishing water, while humans could have used the area for water and foraging.

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