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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Oldest Human Footprints Ever Discovered Outside of Africa Have Already Been Washed Away


Last May, researchers made an astounding discovery in Happisburgh, a coastal town in Norfolk, England: a collection of 850,000 to 950,000-year-old human footprints. 

The discovery ranked as the oldest human footprints ever found outside of Africa, The Guardian reports—around 345,000 years older than a pair of prints found in Italy. But, in addition to housing this archeological wonder, Happisburgh also happens to be one of the fastest eroding places in the U.K.
Within two weeks, the prints had been completely worn away by the tide.

Luckily, researchers were able to make casts of the footprints and create 3D computer models before nature reclaimed them. The footprints were left by an early human species that has since gone extinct, researchers think, and were made in a time that Britain’s environment was more akin to modern Scandinavia’s. The Guardian describes what else those ancient imprints reveal:

The pattern of the prints suggests at least five individuals heading southward, pausing and pottering about to gather plants or shellfish along the bank. They included several children. The best preserved prints, clearly showing heel, arch and four toes – one may not have left a clear impression – is of a man with a foot equivalent to a modern size 8 shoe, suggesting an individual about 5ft 7ins (1.7 metres ) tall.
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