About 13,000 years ago, two adult women without shoes and a child crushed their bare feet through wet mud near the water's edge, leaving behind footprints that still exist today.
The footprints recently discovered by anthropologists on an island in British Columbia, Canada, are the oldest known human tracks in North America according to a new study, providing further evidence that humans on the Pacific coast of Canada thrive at the end of the year last ice age, said study leader Duncan McLaren, anthropologist at the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria in Canada
The footprints – a total of 29 – were so well-preserved that McLaren and his colleagues were able to assign modern US shoe sizes to prehistoric individuals : a junior size 8; a junior size 1
The researchers made the remarkable discovery on Calvert Island, off the west coast of British Columbia, about 100 kilometers north of Vancouver Island] An aerial view of Calvert Island in British Columbia , Canada, where researchers have found 29 ancient human footprints. “/>
An aerial view of Calvert Island in British Columbia, Canada, where researchers have found 29 ancient human footprints.
Photo credits: Keith Holmes / Hakai Institute
At the end of the last Ice Age (about 11,700 years ago), the North American Cordillera Ice Shield ended along the Pacific Coast, leaving "refugia" or ice-free areas with plants and animals to survive. Calvert Island fell directly into one of these refuges, prompting modern researchers to dig for artefacts there. However, excavations in refuges are not always easy, as much of the region is covered with dense temperate rainforests today, researchers said in the study.
In addition, the geography at the end of the last ice age was different from the earth was frozen in huge glaciers. This explains why the sea level was about 3,000 feet lower on Calvert Island some 14,000 to 10,000 years ago, McLaren said.
The First Footprint
"We tested this shoreline on the beach in the intertidal zone when the first footprint was discovered," McLaren told Live Science.
This was in 2014, when the team – including members of the Heiltsuk First Nation and the Wuikinux-First Nation – spawned a single human footprint approximately 24 inches (60 centimeters) below the beach surface on Calvert Island. According to the radiocarbon analyzes, two researchers found that two pieces of old wood were found, which are between 13,300 and 13,000 years old.
Encourages researchers returned to the island in the field years of 2015 and 2016, eventually discovering 28 more human footprints from the same period.
Footprints usually last only a moment. But in this case, "they were crushed into a wet clay that was hardened and then filled with sand, probably from the beach below," McLaren said.
The 29 footprints have a clear arch, toe and heel traces, so the scientists are "certain that they have been abandoned by human feet," they wrote in the study. But since British Columbia is home to bears and the hind paws of black and grizzly bears can leave footprints similar to those of a human being, they had to ask themselves: are those bear tracks?
A thorough analysis shows that "no," these are probably not bear tracks, "the researchers said. [Photos: These Animals Used to Be Giants]
" The tracks excavated on Calvert Island have a well-defined arch, no characteristic claw marks, no triangular overall shape … they lack a long third [toe] and they are narrower than bear tracks, "the researchers wrote in the study, and they found no bear-paw prints on the site.
In fact," none of the archaeological sites are missing. " Human Traces, "wrote the researchers in the study.
Calvert Island was still an island during the last Ice Age, suggesting that prehistoric people used boats to reach it, McLaren said It is possible that the footprints were left by a group of people who got out of the vessel and sat down n more dry central activity area in the north or northwest,
The oldest documented site of prehistoric people along the west coast of North America is Manis Mastodon, on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. In Manis Mastodon, researchers found a bone point in a mastodon rib dated about 13,800 years ago. The oldest known human-inhabited site in Canada is younger – a group of artifacts, including a rock weapon found at Charlie Lake Cave, British Columbia, date back to about 12,500 years,
The new result is "encouraging" for Future researchers who could use similar methods to identify archaeological sites along the Pacific coast, "said Kevin Hatala, an assistant professor of biology at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, who was not involved in the study.
seem to provide irrefutable evidence for humanity Presence along the Pacific coast of Canada, "Hatala told Live Science. "This is important because archaeological sites from this time and place were very rare."
The study was published online today (March 28) in the journal PLOS ONE.
Original article from Live Science .