Arabia's oldest human finger bone fossil is around 90,000 years old, an Australian university announced Tuesday after completing data collection to directly date the fossil.
The fossil was discovered in Al Wusta, an ancient freshwater lake that is now the Nefud Desert in Saudi Arabia, by an international team led by the University of Oxford in Britain, which also included scientists from Australia, Germany, Spain and Saudi Arabia.
"It's quite a significant discovery because it confirms what we were expecting," co-author Mathieu Duval from Griffith University's Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (ARCHE) explained to Xinhua.
"We know that modern humans left Africa around 180,000 years ago because we have found fossils in China, but there have been no fossils, nothing, outside of the Levant in the Arabian peninsula."
"So the fossil is the oldest that has been directly dated outside African and the Levant."
Playing a vital role in the excavation of the finger bone, Griffith University palynologist Dr Julien Louys helped locate and identify the fossil at the dig site, while ARCHE's head of research Professor Rainer Grün, was the one responsible for calculating the age of the mysterious find at his Australian laboratory.
Using a technique called uranium series dating, Grün was able to pinpoint how long the fossil had been buried.
But in order to confirm the timeline, Duval performed electron spin resonance dating on a hippopotamus tooth also found at the site and correlated the data.
Although the scientific community has estimated that modern humans started to leave Africa 60,000 ago, the discovery all but lays to rest any doubt people were on the move long before then.