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Scientists find the human footprint in a mammoth lane using 3D radar



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A team led by Cornell University researchers used ground radar to detect 12,000 year old footprints and footprints.


Cornell University

When you visit the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, you will witness endless waves of light gypsum. It's beautiful, but a research team led by Cornell University scientists was more interested in what was hidden under the sand.

The team used the ground penetrating radar to detect more stones near Stonehenge, moving mammoths, humans and giant sloths 12,000 years ago. These tracks are usually hard to spot unless the conditions are perfect. The researchers call them "ghost traces".

Ground radar showed this mammoth track with a human footprint at the top.


Thomas Urban / Matthew Bennett et al.

Scientists published a paper titled "3-D Radar Imaging Unveils the Untapped Behavioral and Biomechanical Archive of Pleistocene Ghost Traces," lead author Thomas Urban in a Cornell publication on Monday in Scientific Reports. "But it turns out that the sediment itself has a memory that beautifully records the effects of the weight and momentum of the animal, giving us a way to understand the biomechanics of extinct fauna that we have never had before . "

The radar revealed a fascinating scene from the past, consisting of a double track of human footprints that stretched over 2,600 feet (800 meters). It showed the movements of a person who probably went in one direction and then returned about the same way. Mammoth tracks cross the human tracks.

One of the mammoth tracks is something special. It shows where a human later entered the trail and left a telltale footprint. This gives researchers a rare insight into the interaction between humans and mega-fauna all those years ago.

This study shows how ground-penetrating radar can reveal previously hidden secrets of the past, even those as subtle as footprints. "The technique could potentially be applied to many other fossil footprint sites around the world, possibly including those of dinosaurs," said Urban from Berlin reused …





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