85,000-year-old human footprints discovered in Saudi Arabia

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Human footprints dating back to about 85,000 years have been discovered on the banks of an ancient lake in the Nefud Desert in Tabuk region, Prince Sultan Bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), announced in Tokyo on Thursday.

85,000-year-old human footprints discovered in Saudi Arabia
Credit: Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Ministry of Culture and Information, Saudi Arabia

This amazing and rare discovery points to a new understanding of how our species came out of Africa en route to colonizing the world.

Prince Sultan’s announcement came on the sidelines of his visit on Thursday to the exhibition entitled “Trade routes in the Arabian Peninsula – the magnificent antiquities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia throughout the ages.” The exhibition, organized by the SCTH in the Japanese National Museum in Tokyo, is scheduled to end on Sunday.

A joint Saudi international team discovered traces of several adults who were scattered on a muddy land in an old lake — each heading to a different destination — in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, Prince Sultan said, according to a Saudi Press Agency (SPA) report on Friday.

85,000-year-old human footprints discovered in Saudi Arabia
Credit: Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Ministry of Culture and Information, Saudi Arabia

The research team included the Saudi Geological Survey, the SCTH, King Saud University, the Max Planck Foundation for Human History, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Australia National, and the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Prince Sultan said the age of the footprints coincides with the fossil of the finger of an adult person recently found near the central site in the province of Taima.

The finger, whose discovery was announced last month, is considered to belong to an adult of the early migrants in recent times to the Arabian Peninsula via the Nefud Desert, which then was a green pasture replete with rivers, lakes, freshwater and abundant animals – a source of food for humans.

Prince Sultan said the SCTH is working side-by-side with archaeologists at the Max Planck Institute that has started work with the commission for several years. The objective is to study these footprints in detail. The archaeological and scientific exploratory works are still going on in international laboratories.

Source: Saudi Gazette [May 12, 2018]

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