Homo Erectus looked like us. Now we have his 800,000 year old footprints.

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tags: Archeology, Homo Erectus, Eritrea



A team of Italian researchers may have just discovered the oldest fossilized footprints left behind by our ancestor, Homo erectus, in the desert of the East African country of Eritrea. It’s believed the prints date back approximately 800,000 years, and although their age has yet to be verified, it’s anticipated they will provide a wealth of information about the movements and gait of this extinct species of hominid.

Alfredo Coppa, an archaeologist with Sapienza University in Rome, along with his Italian research team and researchers with Eritrea’s National Museum discovered the 26 square meter stone slab that contained the footprints. Today, the region where they were found is in the middle of a desert, but 800,000 years ago the environment was very different.

The fossilized footprints, which are practically indistinguishable from our own, were left in the sandy sediments on the shore of a lake, which archaeologists believe was part of the landscape at the time. The shapes of the footprints indicate they filled with water directly after they were formed and before they dried out and were eventually buried. The footprints suggest movement from the north to the south, and amazingly, there were also tracks from an animal similar to a gazelle around them, suggesting perhaps our early ancestors were on a hunting expedition.




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