120,000-Year-Old Human Footprints Mark Possible Migration Route Through Arabian Peninsula

Archaeologists at the Alathar lake site in the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia.

Archaeologists at the Alathar lake site in the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia.
Image: Palaeodeserts Project

Archaeologists in Saudi Arabia have discovered seven well-preserved footprints belonging to humans. Dated to around 120,000 years ago, these appear to be the oldest evidence of our species in the region.

Prior to the last ice age, somewhere between 112,000 and 122,000 years ago, two humans, possibly three, walked south along the shore of an ancient lake in what is now the western Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia. The humans, as they crouched down to collect valuable freshwater, were not alone, as the lake had attracted elephants, horses, camels, and other animals desperate for a drink.

Their thirsts quenched, the humans departed, but not before leaving imprints of their feet in the mud flats. Same for the animals. The footprints dried out and solidified shortly afterward and then became covered in sand, preserving

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