Stepping back 3.6m years: footprints yield new clues to Humans’ Ancestors

Tracks found by accident on proposed museum site in Tanzania were preserved in volcanic ash dampened by ancient African rains. The footprints of five ancestors of humans who walked the Earth more than 3.6m years ago have been found preserved in volcanic ash that was dampened by ancient African rains. Researchers unearthed the tracks by accident when they began to excavate test pits that had been called for as part of an assessment of the impact of building a proposed museum on the site in Tanzania. The markings reveal that the ancient human relatives walked side by side for at least 30 meters. The footprints were laid down in a layer of ash that was subsequently buried, but which, when moistened, retained the tracks like clay. A first analysis of the footprints suggests that they were made when a male, three females and a child passed through what is now Laetoli in the African country. The individuals almost certainly belong to a species of hairy bipedal ape called Australopithecus afarensis which is known to have lived in the region.

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Read also: Fossil Footprints Show Movements of Our Early Ancestors

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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