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.
And in just the last couple months, another find has suggested even the new model is outdated: The fossil from Israel known as Misliya-1 pushed back the presence of modern beyond Africa to at least 177,000 years ago.
Going Green Amid the flurry of discoveries, teams have been combing the Arabian desert for more than a decade in search of an early human presence.
Projects such as Palaeodeserts have allowed researchers to recreate the Arabian Peninsula’s past climate and determine that it was once a far more hospitable place, precisely the sort of environment that would attract our species.
Satellite imagery and other methods, for example, have revealed that Arabia was once home to 10,000 lakes, some filled by monsoonal rains and only seasonal, but many others existing year-round.
This detailed understanding of “Green Arabia,” and the specific location of the fossil, is important because the path of human migration out of Africa continues to be debated.
Regardless of how humans arrived in Green Arabia, they would have found a veritable land of plenty.Direct dating of the finger bone suggests it is at least 85,000 years old, making it one of the oldest fossils ever found outside Africa.Authors of the study call AW-1, as it’s formally known, “the oldest directly dated fossil of our species outside Africa and the Levant,” and it’s an important distinction to make, since older fossils, controversially described by other researchers as , have been found in China.Well, well, well…you could say a new and highly significant fossil is really giving the finger to the human evolution and migration timeline once considered all but carved in stone.A discovery in the Arabian desert confirms Over the past few years, a number of separate research teams have been turning up evidence, including fossils, artifacts and genetic data, that have toppled the crusty old timeline for human evolution and dispersal beyond Africa.John Corpuz flip-flopped between computer science and creative writing courses in school.