Miri is situated on the alluvial plain of the Miri River on the western shore of northern Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Because of the prevailing southerly off-shore current, beach drift has built up the Peninsula Road as a barrier beach between the Miri River and the shore causing a "Yazoo effect" where the river runs parallel to the coast before breaking through into the South China Sea. The city is predominately located on the inland (east) side of the Miri River with only a few scattered residential neighbourhoods, a Golf Club and a small airstrip on the Peninsula Road.
The first foragers visited the West Mouth of Niah Cave (located 110 km southwest of Miri city) 50,000 years ago when Borneo was connected to the mainland of Southeast Asia. The landscape of Niah Cave was drier and more open than it is now. Prehistoric Niah Cave was surrounded by a mosaic of closed forests with bush, parkland, swamps, and rivers. The foragers were able to survive in the rainforests through hunting, fishing, mollusc collection, and plant gathering. The earliest evidence of human population in the area dates back to 40,000 BC in Niah Cave at Paleolithic period. This is evidenced by the discovery of a Homo sapiens skull nicknamed "Deep Skull" in a deep trench uncovered by Tom Harrisson in 1958, which is the oldest modern human skull in Southeast Asia. The skull probably belongs to a 16- to 17-year-old adolescent girl. Unfossilised Manis paleojavanica (Asian giant pangolin) bone dated back to 30,000 BC was also found in the proximity of the "Deep Skull", as well as with the Mesolithic and Neolithic burial sites inside the Niah Caves.
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