Related News

Home » World

Footprints give clue to ancient man's walk

FOOTPRINTS found in Kenya show that 1.5 million years ago a human ancestor walked like we do with anatomically modern feet, scientists said on Thursday.

The remains of the footprints found in sedimentary rock near Ileret in northern Kenya most likely were left by a human ancestor called Homo erectus, also known as Homo ergaster, an international team of scientists wrote in the journal Science.

The scientists found a series of footprints, including one apparently left by a child, left by individuals walking on a muddy river bank. Judging from stride length, they estimated the individuals were about 1.75 meters in height.

"It was kind of creepy excavating these things," said archaeologist David Braun of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, one of the researchers. "These could quite easily have been made on the beach today."

The footprints show that the individuals had a big toe parallel to the other toes, unlike that of other apes where it is separated in a grasping configuration useful for swinging from trees. The footprints show a characteristic human-like arch and short toes.

The size, spacing and depth of the footprints allowed the scientists to estimate weight, stride and gait, which all were found to be within the range of modern humans.

Our species, Homo sapiens, first appeared 200,000 years ago. But this shows that at least as far back as 1.5 million years ago, the human lineage walked with a modern stride, the researchers said.

The findings mark one of the most important discoveries in recent years regarding the evolution of human walking.

These are the second-oldest known footprints of human ancestors. The oldest, found in Tanzania, dated from about 3.75 million years ago and were made by a much more primitive ancestor called Australopithecus.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend