Friday, December 10, 2010
New research is suggesting some of the earliest humans could have lived in a a once fertile landmass flooded by the Persian Gulf some 75,000 to 100,000 years ago. At its peak, the floodplain now below the Gulf would have been about the size of Great Britain, and then shrank as water began to flood the area. Then, about 8,000 years ago, the land would have been swallowed up by the Indian Ocean.
The study is detailed in the December issue of the journal Current Anthropology and it has broad implications for aspects of human history. 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, according to study researcher Jeffrey Rose, an archaeologist at the University of Birmingham in the UK.
The findings have sparked discussion among researchers, including Carter and Cerny, who were allowed to provide comments within the research paper, about who exactly the humans were who occupied the Gulf basin.
"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. In fact, recent evidence from the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome suggests interbreeding, meaning we are part caveman."