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Ancient network of rivers and lakes found in Arabian Desert

Phys.org/news (May 01, 2012)

Titre : Ancient network of rivers and lakes found in Arabian Desert

Satellite images have revealed that a network of ancient rivers once coursed their way through the sand of the Arabian Desert, leading scientists to believe that the region experienced wetter periods in the past.

Phys.org/news ( May 01, 2012 )

Présentation
The images are the starting point for a major potentially ground-breaking research project led by the University of Oxford into human evolutionary heritage. The research team will look at how long-term climate change affected early humans and animals who settled or passed through and what responses determined whether they were able to survive or died out.

Until now this part of the world has been largely ignored by scholars despite its critical location as a bridge between Africa and Eurasia. In a project funded by €2.34 million from the ERC (European Research Council), a multidisciplinary team of researchers will study the effects of environmental change in the Arabian Peninsula over the last two million years. The systematic study of the Pleistocene to Holocene periods will be unique in its length and level of detail.

Over the course of five years the researchers will study the landscape features and excavate sites of likely archaeological interest, using the network of water courses as a map. They will use the latest dating techniques to pinpoint the ages of fossils of animals, plants and different stone tool technologies and compare the similarities and differences displayed in the region’s rock art.

The team’s main focus will be the Arabian Desert, but the work will also cover the wider Peninsula. One key question they will attempt to answer is when the first early modern humans are likely to have first arrived in the Arabian Peninsula from Africa and perhaps surrounding regions. They will also look for evidence that suggests how early modern humans were able to survive, or not, in arid and extreme conditions.

Source  : Oxford University

Annonce (Phys.org/news)

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