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Ancient Footprints in Africa's Mountain of God Reveal Story of Human Life 5000 to 19000 Years Ago

Oct 11, 2016 08:42 AM EDT
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It's the path that ancient humans walked, the marks they have made on the ancient earth. Locals and scientists discovered over 400 human footprints - each one remarkably well-preserved - in Engare Sero, Tanzania back in 2006 and 2008 respectively and these footprints led to valuable knowledge of their lives millennia ago.

According to a report from National Geographic, the footprints date to anytime between 5,000 to 19,000 years ago. This set of 400 footprints is the largest collection of ancient Homo sapiens footprints in Africa.

"I was thrilled to learn the scope of the project - human footprint sites are so rare, and it has been exciting to be involved in working on one of them," Briana Pobiner of the Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program wrote in an email. "The sheer number of footprints that were all created at essentially the same time allows us to directly investigate social aspects of the lives of these ancient humans."

The simple, seemingly mundane activities that researchers were able to determine the ancient humans were doing only serve to make the discovery more poignant. There are tracks showing some of them running, while others seem to be of a person who had possibly injured a big toe. Women and children walked across the mudflat together. According to the Scientific American blog, there were more women than men in the traveling group.

"The first time we went out there, I remember getting out of the vehicle, and I teared up a little bit," Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce, Appalachian State University geologist and National Geographic grantee, told National Geographic. "Human origins is a huge interest of mine: where we came from, and why we are who we are. It was definitely emotional to see our own history in this."

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