Oldest Footprints Outside of Africa Found in Engalnd
Happisburgh, England – This little town of 1,300 residents on the cost of the English Channel is currently drawing lots of attention for its archaeological evidence. In 2010, scientists discovered flint tools dating back 800,000 years giving the oldest evidence of early human settlement known to exist in England. Next, this past May scientists discovered what they believed were human footprints on the coastal beach area. They have now proudly announced that the footprints date back 800,000 years and are the oldest human footprints known to exist outside of Africa.
Their findings have been published in the most recent edition of the online peer-reviewed journal called Public Library of Science One or simply PLOS ONE. The journal’s motto is “publish first, judge later” which is efficient at encouraging research, but now will come the scrutiny of the research.
“At first we weren’t sure what we were seeing,” said Nicholas Ashton, a curator at the British Museum and the lead author of the paper in a statement, “but as we removed any remaining beach sand and sponged off the seawater, it was clear that the hollows resembled prints, perhaps human prints.”
University of Southampton archaeology professor Clive Gamble, who was not involved in the project, tells CBC the discovery was “tremendously significant.”
“It’s just so tangible,” he said. “This is the closest we’ve got to seeing the people.
“When I heard about it, it was like hearing the first line of (William Blake’s hymn) `Jerusalem’ — `And did those feet, in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green?’ Well, they walked upon its muddy estuary.”
Researchers claim the footprints were formed by at least one adult and two children. It could have been formed in the mud & silt flats by a family searching for food. At the time they were formed, Mammoths, rhinos, bison, and hippos roamed the grasslands along the Thames. The footprints were only recently discovered when the tide suddenly uncovered them.
On The Web:
800,000-year-old footprints found in England — then they washed away