Human Footprints from Ice Age Trace Heartbreaking Journey, Research Finds

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TORONTO – An international group of researchers say a newly discovered trace of Ice Age footprints shows the dangers and hardships humans faced more than 10,000 years ago. The footprints, recently documented in Quaternary Science Reviews and believed to be the longest trace of fossilized human footprints in the world, stretch 1.5 kilometers along a dry lake bed in White Sands National Park in New Mexico and date back over 11,500 years.

The footprints, originally discovered in 2018, are believed to be those of a woman or a teenager, with the prints of a toddler added at times, suggesting the older adult was wearing the toddler for long periods of hiking.

“When I first saw intermittent toddler footprints, a familiar scene came to my mind,” Cornell University researcher Thomas Urban said in a new version.

The researchers also found that the footprints had widened in some places, suggesting that the older person also stopped carrying the child on either side of the hip. The pieces are also repeated in the opposite direction a few hours later, but without the child this time.

Considering the shape of the tracks, the researchers also note that the person was likely traveling at an exhausting pace of 1.7 meters per second, 0.5 meters per second faster than a comfortable walking pace on a flat, dry surface. , much less covered in mud.

The route taken by these two men also seems to have been quite dangerous.

Scientists have found traces of giant sloths and mammoths that crossed human tracks just after their passage. The tracks appear to show the sloth got up on its hind legs to catch a scent before stomping on the tracks and leaving, while the mammoth appears to have not noticed the tracks.

“This research is important in helping us understand our human ancestors, how they lived, their similarities and differences,” said co-author Sally Reynold, senior lecturer in hominin paleoecology at the University of Bournemouth.

“We can put ourselves in that person’s shoes or footprints (and) imagine what it was like to carry a child from one arm to the other as we walk through difficult terrain surrounded by animals. potentially dangerous.

The lake bottom of what was once Lake Otero has been the site of several other footprint finds dating back between 11,550 and 13,000 years ago. It became a hotbed of discovery due to its largely muddy surface, which was able to preserve footprints as it dried up.

White Sands National Park contains the largest collection of ice age fossilized prints in the world. In the past, researchers have found traces of mammoths, giant sloths, terrible wolves and American lions in the park.

“I am very happy to recognize this wonderful story spanning millennia,” White Sands National Park Superintendent Marie Sauter said in a statement. “Seeing the footprints of a child thousands of years old reminds us why it is so important to take care of these special places. ”

According to the National Park Service, researchers also found traces of children playing in puddles formed by tracks of giant sloths and people jumping between tracks of mammoths.

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