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References Publications referenced by this paper. Geochemistry and mineralogical composition of the airborne particles of sand dunes and dust storms settled in Iraq and their environmental impacts Salih Muhammad Awadh. Arabian deserts : nature, origin and evolution Heather Edgell.

Mineralogical characteristics of the Quaternary sand dunes in the eastern province of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Ahmed , M. Soliman , A. Alsharhan , S. Near surface solutions in south Rub Al - Khali , Saudi Arabia applying seismic - gravity joint inversion and redatuming. Mantovani Colombo , M. Sfolciaghi , P. Although evidence of the earliest exodus has been found in Israel, suggesting H. Both of these proposed routes, however, suggest that the early humans stayed close to coastlines. Human fossils found at sites in Israel such as Misliya, Skhul and Qafzeh have suggested a northern route of exodus for the earliest human explorers, although some researchers argue a southern route was also possible.

Regardless of how humans arrived in Green Arabia, they would have found a veritable land of plenty. A deformity visible on one side appears to be an abnormal bony growth called an enthesophyte, which typically results from trauma or repeated stress to the bone at the location.

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The bone also appears to show signs of intense manual activity. Direct dating of the finger bone suggests it is at least 85, years old, making it one of the oldest H. A directly dated fossil is pretty much what it sounds like: Researchers are able to date the fossil itself, in this case through radiometric dating, rather than estimate a date based either on artifacts found with it or on the age of sediment and other material immediately above or below it. In the case of AW-1, in addition to directly dating the finger bone through a technique called uranium series dating , the team confirmed its age by also dating material around it, including hippopotamus remains and sediments, using a variety of methods as a cross-check.

Based on paleoclimate research, the area around Al Wusta, in the interior of the Arabian Peninsula, would have been semi-arid grassland populated by mainly African animals — more than vertebrate fossils were found in the vicinity. The site included a freshwater lake that would have been a few meters deep year-round. Yes, other teams have managed to extract genetic material from much older hominin fossils, such as those at Sima de los Huesos in Spain, which clocked in at , years old, but ancient DNA preservation requires both precise conditions — including cold — and a ton of luck.

Well, a lot, and not all of it fits into the new model of human migration. Many large tooth pits on fossils indicate that large carnivores played a role in the accumulation of the deposit. Long bone circumference, completeness and numbers of green fractures suggests modification of bones by bone-breaking agents such as large carnivores or hominins Supplementary Information 6. However, no evidence of cut-marks or hammerstone damage to the bones was observed.

An assemblage of lithic artefacts stone tools was recovered from the excavation of upper Unit 2 and Unit 3 and systematic surface collection Methods , Figure 5 , Supplementary Information 7. They are of Middle Palaeolithic character and most are chert and quartzite. The assemblage demonstrates a focus on centripetal Levallois reduction, and is similar to other late Marine Isotope Stage 5 assemblages in the west and north of Arabia 45 , and contemporaneous assemblages in east e.

Bir Tarfawi , as well as those from the Levant e. Qafzeh 11 Fig. A: argillaceous quartzite flake; B: quartz hammerstone; C: ferruginous quartzite Levallois flake; D: chert Levallois flake; E: Quartz recurrent centripetal Levallois core; F: quartzite preferential Levallois core with centripetal preparation and pointed preferential removal. Al Wusta-1 is the oldest directly dated H. It joins a small but growing corpus of evidence that the early dispersal of H. This site establishes that H.

While changes in behaviour and demography are crucial to understanding the dispersal process, climatic windows of opportunity were also key in allowing H. After long being isolated in Africa 1 , 47 , 48 , the Late Pleistocene saw the expansion of our species out of Africa and into the diverse ecologies of Eurasia.

Within a few thousand years of spreading into Eurasia our species was occupying rainforest environments and making long sea crossings to remote islands 13 , Adapting to the semi-arid conditions of the Saharo-Arabian arid belt represented a crucial step on this pathway to global success and the Al Wusta Homo sapiens fossil demonstrates this early ability to occupy diverse ecologies which led to us becoming a cosmopolitan species.

The locations of all materials of interest fossils, stone tools, geomorphological features, excavations and sample points were recorded using a high-precision Trimble XRS Pro Differential GPS system and a total station, and entered into a GIS Fig. Elevation data masl were recorded as a series of transects across the site, and a digital elevation model DEM and contours interpolated Spline from all data with precisions of better than 10 cm in all x,y,z dimensions 22, points. This allowed visualisation and recording of the spatial relationships between materials in three dimensions Fig.

Eight trenches were excavated into the fossil and artefact bearing deposits. These trenches revealed vertebrate remains and lithics, but no further human fossils were recovered. Scan parameters were: a tungsten target; 0. Other CT data were obtained from the institutions cited in Supplementary Table 5 with permissions following the memoranda of understanding with each institution.

Landmark coordinates were exported for use in Morphologika In Morphologika, generalized Procrustes analyses were performed to superimpose landmark coordinate data, and principal components analyses PCA were run to investigate similarities in shape between specimens. Shape differences along principal componentss were visualised and wireframes were produced in Morphologika, PC scores were exported to create graphs in R Procrustes distances between specimens were calculated using MorphoJ To avoid representing the same phalanges from different sides of a single individual as independent data points and to maximise sample sizes in pooled analyses, right phalanges were used in cases where the phalanges from both sides were present.

The AW-1 phalanx lab number and a hippopotamus tooth fragment lab number WU were collected from Trench 1 Fig. The external dose rate utilised the data of OSL sample PD40, which was collected in an equivalent position within unit 3a. Laser ablation LA was used to drill a number of holes into AW-1 following the approach of Benson and colleagues A similar experimental setup and methodology were employed for the LA U-series analysis of tooth sample WU The whole closed system U-series analytical datasets of the enamel and dentine sections were integrated to provide the data input for the ESR age calculations.

The sample was then divided into 11 aliquots and gamma irradiated with a Gammacell Cs source to increasing doses until 3. Full details about the experimental conditions and analytical procedure may be found in Supplementary Information 2. The following parameters were used for the dose rate evaluation: an alpha efficiency of 0.

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A fourth sample PD40 was taken from the main fossil bearing bed Unit 3. The burial dose for each sample D b was calculated using the central age model CAM Full optically stimulated luminescence dating methods and results are presented in Supplementary Information Section 3. Chronometric ages for samples from the Al Wusta site were incorporated into a Bayesian sequential phase model implemented in OxCal v4. The model consists of two discrete phases separated by a hiatus.

Phase 1 was defined by the three OSL ages PD15, 17 and 41 for samples from the aeolian sands Unit 1 underlying the lacustrine marls Unit 2. Since the Al Wusta sequence accumulated over a short period of time, and contains only five finite ages and three minimum ages , the General Outlier Model 31 was unable to function, and instead a simpler model using agreement indices was employed. This analysis yielded Amodel 76 and Aoverall 79 values well in excess of the generally accepted threshold 60 31 , with only one age yielding an individual agreement index below this threshold PD17, These data indicate that no ages should be excluded from the model, and that the age model itself is robust.

The Bayesian sequential model yielded an age for the end of Phase 1 of The end date for phase 2 should be treated as a maximum value since no overlying material is present, precluding the possibility of further constraining the end of this phase. Bulk samples in the form of coherent blocks were taken at 10 cm intervals through each of the marl beds in four sections Fig. Each block was air-dried and subsamples ca 0. Thin sections were prepared from fresh sediment blocks. The sediments did not require acetone treatment as they were already dry and, due to their permeability, were impregnated with a bonding resin.

Standard thin section preparation was then carried out using techniques developed in the Centre for Micromorphology at Royal Holloway, University of London Thin sections were analysed using an Olympus BX microscope with magnifications from 20x to x and photomicrographs were captured with a Pixera Penguin es camera. A point-count approach was used to produce semi-quantified data from the thin sections, based on counting micro-features at 3 mm intervals along linear transects 1 cm apart.

Kemp 67 , Stoops 68 and Alonso-Zarza 42 were referred to when identifying features. The methods and results are described further in Supplementary Information 5. Sample preparation. Samples were analysed using the standard method of Renberg 69 Supplementary Information 5. Distilled water was added to dilute the samples after heating, which were then stored in the refrigerator for four days to minimise further chemical reactions. The samples were rinsed daily and allowed to settle overnight. A known volume of microspheres was added to the supernatant after the last rinse to enable calculation of the diatom concentration The slides were air-dried at room temperature in a dust free environment before mounting with Naphrax diatom mountant.

Diatom taxonomy followed Krammer and Lange-Bertalot 71 — 73 and taxonomic revisions 74 , 75 with at least valves enumerated for a representative sample at x magnification.

Arabian Deserts

Numerical analysis. Detrended Correspondence Analysis DCA 77 with detrending by segments and down-weighting of rare species was used to investigate taxonomic variations within each site and to determine whether linear or unimodal models should be used for further analyses. Therefore, variations in the down-core DCCA first axis sample scores show an estimate of the compositional change between samples along an environmental or temporal gradient.

Depth was used as the sole constraint as the samples in each site are in a known temporal order The dataset was square-root transformed to normalise the distribution prior to analyses. The planktonic: benthic ratio, habitat summary, concentration and the F index a dissolution index 84 were calculated for all the samples. The former procedure ensures that the analysed fraction comprises pure authigenic marl rather than a mixture of osctracod, mollusc, chara and marl components that will contain different isotopic values.

The latter is done to ensure that any carbonate that has been affected by diagenesis is sampled. Neither of these approaches were carried out here as; 1 microfabric analysis showed no evidence for diagenesis although some of the samples are cemented the cement makes a negligible component of sample mass , and 2 some of the samples have incipient cementation, which means that they cannot be sieved. Two samples were taken from different locations of each sampled block to generate a larger dataset of independent samples.

Each fossil specimen was identified to lowest taxonomic and anatomical level possible Supplementary Figure 20, Supplementary Table 19 and Supplementary Information 6. Each specimen was assigned a size category small, medium, and large following Dominguez-Rodrigo and colleagues 86 , and corresponding to the five size classes described in Bunn 87 , where small, medium and large denote size classes , 3A-3B and , respectively. Each specimen was examined for modification by eye and hand-lens 10x under both natural and high-incidence light, and examined at different angles to assist identification of fine-scale surface modifications.

Where required, further examination and photography was carried out using a digital microscope Model: Dino-lite, AMMZ. Bone surface modifications were identified and recorded following standard methodologies: butchery and tooth marks 88 — 94 , burning 95 — 96 , rodent gnawing 97 , 98 , weathering 99 and trampling Carnivore damage was categorized as pit, score, furrow or puncture, and the location noted Tooth mark morphometric data — short and long axes — was also recorded.

Any additional modifications, i. Bone breakage was recorded as green, dry, or both, following Villa and Mahieu Lithics were systematically collected during pedestrian transects and excavations of Al Wusta. This produced a total studied assemblage of lithics Supplementary Information 7. Further lithics extended for a considerable distance to the north, seeming to track the outlines of the palaeolake, but we only conducted detailed analysis on lithics from the southern part of the site, close to AW-1 and the sedimentary ridge on which it was found i.

These were analysed using the methodology described in Scerri and colleages 25 , , and Groucutt and colleagues 45 , Informative examples were selected for photography and illustration. This approach allows both a characterisation and description of the assemblage and broad comparison with other assemblages from surrounding regions. Supplementary Information is available in the online version of the paper. Fieldwork and analyses were funded by the European Research Council no. We acknowledge the Max Planck Society for supporting us with comparative fossil data, and we thank curators for access to comparative extant and fossil material in their care Supplementary Tables 5 and 7.

Author Contributions H. S and J. W carried out the OSL dating. W conducted the stratigraphic and sedimentological analysis of the site, with input from N. Lithic analysis was conducted by H. Spatial analyses were conducted by P. All authors helped to write the paper. Author Information The authors declare no competing financial interests. Readers are welcome to comment on the online version of the paper. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Nat Ecol Evol. Author manuscript; available in PMC Oct 9.

Huw S. Zalmout , 5 Nick A. Drake , 6 Simon J. Breeze , 6 Mathieu Duval , 3, 9 Laura T. Buck , 10, 11 Tracy L. Kivell , 12, 13 Emma Pomeroy , 10, 14 Nicholas B. Stephens , 13 Jay T. Stock , 10, 15 Mathew Stewart , 16 Gilbert J. Memesh , 5 Ammar J. Abdulshakoor , 5 Abdu M. Al-Masari , 5 Ahmed A. Bahameem , 5 Khaled S.

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Scerri , 1, 2 and Michael D. Iyad S.

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Nick A. Simon J. Paul S. Laura T. Tracy L. Nicholas B. Jay T. Gilbert J. Abdullah M. Ammar J. Abdu M. Ahmed A. Khaled S.

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Al Murayyi. Eleanor M. Michael D. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Copyright notice. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Nat Ecol Evol. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Associated Data Supplementary Materials Reporting summary. Supplementary information. Abstract Understanding the timing and character of Homo sapiens expansion out of Africa is critical for inferring the colonisation and admixture processes that underpin global population history.

Background Homo sapiens evolved in Africa in the late Middle Pleistocene 1. Open in a separate window. Figure 1.

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Al Wusta location, map of site and stratigraphy. Results AW-1 is an intermediate manual phalanx, most likely from the 3 rd ray Fig. Figure 2. Figure 3.

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