Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Scientists find oldest Homo erectus footprints ever discovered

JUNE 17, 2016

by Chuck Bednar

Newly discovered fossilized footprints left behind by Homo erectus, the extinct ancestor of modern humans, are believed to be approximately 800,000 years old and are potentially the oldest such remains ever discovered by researchers, according to published reports.

Discovered in the deserts of south eastern Eritrea by a team of local and Italian paleontologists, the prints were left behind in the sands of what had been an ancient lake at the time, The Local and the ANSA news agency reported this week. The footprints have been described as virtually indistinguishable from those of a modern man.

“Their age is yet to be confirmed with certainty,” Alfredo Coppa, an archaeologist from Rome’s Sapienza University and the leader of the expedition, told The Local. He added that footprints such as these are “extremely rare” and that they would “reveal a lot about the evolution of man, because they provide vital information about our ancestors gait and locomotion.”

Coppa and his colleagues found the fossils in a 26 square meter stone slab, and reported that the shape indicates that the prints had been filled with water after formation but before they dried out and became buried beneath the sands of what is now an extremely arid desert region.

Findings provide insight into human ancestors, surrounding ecosystem
Working with researchers from the National Museum of Eritrea, the Sapienza University team discovered the footprints at the Aalad-Amo site in eastern Eritrea. As the paleontologists pointed out to ANSA, the toes and the sole of the foot indicate that Homo erectus was an efficient runner and walker.

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