A joint scientific team, composed of the Saudi Geological Survey, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, King Saud University, the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History of Germany, Oxford University and Cambridge University of the UK, and the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales of Australia, discovered the first actual sample of ancient human remains in northwestern Saudi Arabia–a very important relic of human history.
The President of the SGS, Engr. Hussein Bin Mana Al-Otaibi, announced that the fossil belongs to a middle finger phalanx of a human, with a length of 32 mm and a diameter of not more than 9 mm. It has been well preserved in the sediments of an ancient Holocene lake that lies amid the sand dunes of the Nafud Desert. The area where the fossil was found is known as the Old Central Lake, situated 140 km east of the Taima Governorate in the Tabuk Region, northwest Saudi Arabia.
He further declared that this fossil is the first concrete evidence of the existence and settlement of ancient man in Saudi Arabia about 85,000 years ago, and it is the oldest human fossil found outside Africa and the Palestine.
He further pointed out that this achievement was accomplished by the SGS, represented by its Paleontology Department and the Sedimentology Department under the project on the discovery of vertebrate fossils in Saudi Arabia, and with the cooperation of the Green Arabia Project, supervised by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, and also, with the valuable participation of SGS’ European and international partners from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany.
He explained that the rock tools and equipment found in the area are similar to the Middle Stone Age tools found in Africa. They were presumed to have been carried by humans to the Arabian Peninsula. The ancient environment where the fossil was found, experienced rainy periods that were associated with the tropical effect, which also created a suitable environment for human habitation and also stimulated the migration of African animals, such as the hippopotamuses, buffalos, deer, snakes, and birds to this part of Saudi Arabia.
Al-Otaibi concluded by stating that this discovery proclaims a new scientific, historical, and cultural legacy that supports the realization of the Saudi Vision 2030 by enriching society’s scientific knowledge and by attracting the attention of many geologists, paleontologists, and archeologists to conduct more in-depth scientific studies in the field of geology.