New Delhi | Jagran Trending Desk: In a significant discovery, researchers have found that around 1,20,000 years ago, a small group of people stopped to drink and search food at a shallow lake, in modern-day northern Saudi Arabia, where camels, buffalo, and elephants bigger than any species seen today also visited.

The study, however, revealed that the humans didn’t stop there for long and used the lake as a waypoint on a long journey.  

Published in Science Advances on Wednesday, the detailed study followed the discovery of ancient footprints of humans and animals in the Nefrud desert, which highlighted the new routes of our ancestors, which they took when they spread out of Africa. 

At present, the Arabian peninsula is known by its vast, arid deserts that would have been inhospitable to early people and the animals they hunted down.

However, the research conducted over the last decade showed that due to natural climate changes, the arid deserts experienced much greener and more humid conditions in a period known as the last interglacial.

"At certain times in the past, the deserts that dominate the interior of the peninsula transformed into expansive grasslands with permanent freshwater lakes and rivers," explained study co-author Richard Clark-Wilson of Royal Holloway, as quoted by news agency AFP.

"Footprints are a unique form of fossil evidence in that they provide snapshots in time, typically representing a few hours or days, a resolution we tend not to get from other records," paper's first author Mathew Stewart, of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany, said.

The prints were dated using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence -- blasting light at quartz grains and measuring the amount of energy emitted from them.

In the latest study, 7 out of hundreds of prints discovered were identified as hominin, including 4 that distances from one another and differences in size were interpreted as two or three individuals travelling together

"We know that humans were visiting this lake at the same time these animals were, and, unusually for the area, there are no stone tools," said Stewart, which would have indicated the humans made a longer-term settlement there.

"It appears that these people were visiting the lake for water resources and just to forage at the same time as the animals," and probably to also hunt them.

In addition to the footprints, some 233 fossils were recovered, and it's likely that carnivores were attracted to the herbivores at Alathar, similar to what is seen in African savannas today.



(With Agency Inputs)

Posted By: Talib Khan