Now submerged area may be where moderns first interacted with Neanderthals.
Land now submerged under the Persian Gulf may have supported some of the earliest humans outside Africa some 75,000 to 100,000 years ago. The floodplain now under water would have been about the size of Great Britain, shrinking as water flooded the area. Then, about 8,000 years ago, the land would have been swallowed up by the Indian Ocean, researchers now say.
A new research study, detailed in the December issue of the journal Current Anthropology, has broad implications for aspects of human history. According to LiveScience.com:
For instance, scientists have debated over when early modern humans exited Africa, with dates as early as 125,000 years ago and as recent as 60,000 years ago (the more recent date is the currently accepted paradigm), according to study researcher Jeffrey Rose, an archaeologist at the University of Birmingham in the U.K.
"I think Jeff's theory is bold and imaginative, and hopefully will shake things up," Robert Carter of Oxford Brookes University in the U.K. told LiveScience. "It would completely rewrite our understanding of the out-of-Africa migration. It is far from proven, but Jeff and others will be developing research programs to test the theory.
Viktor Cerny of the Archaeogenetics Laboratory, the Institute of Archaeology, in Prague, called Rose's finding an "excellent theory," in an email to LiveScience, though he also points out the need for more research to confirm it.
"Given the presence of Neanderthal communities in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates River, as well as in the eastern Mediterranean region, this may very well have been the contact zone between moderns and Neanderthals," Rose told LiveScience.
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