Notable: Genetic traces of early migration in Arabia

Notable paper: Rodriguez-Flores JL, Fakhro K, Agosto-Perez F, Ramstetter MD, Arbiza L, et al. 2016. Indigenous Arabs are descendants of the earliest split from ancient Eurasian populations. Genome Research (online) doi:10.1101/gr.191478.115

Synopsis: Rodriguez-Flores and colleagues carried out genetic sampling of people from the Arabian peninsula, including

Grisly detail: The hunters seem to have broken up the mammoth’s tusk in an effort to create sharp-edged ivory flakes that they could use to butcher the animal.

Not said: Were these Neandertals or modern humans? Neither find includes any artifacts. At least one high-latitude site further to the west and later in time, Byzovaya, has been interpreted as a terminal Mousterian that may have been made by Neandertals some 30,000–35,000 years ago, while a somewhat earlier site, Mamontovaya Kurya, has a marked piece of mammoth tusk, and has been likened to Szeletian (my earlier posts: “Who colonized the European Arctic?”, “Neandertals of the North”). The Ust’-Ishim femur shows that a modern human population without substantially greater Neandertal ancestry was present in the Ob drainage by 45,000 years ago (The Ust’-Ishim genome”), and a very early Upper Paleolithic was present in the Altai by 43,000 radiocarbon years ago, for example at Kara Bom. In light of this, it seems likely that one or more modern human populations had developed cultures with the logistical wherewithal to use the mammoth steppes, perhaps 20,000 years earlier than the mammoth hunters of Eastern Europe. The question about whether Neandertals were using the northern parts of the European Arctic remains unresolved.