In 2006, a local from Tanzania’s Engare Sero village made a discovery of great importance. Exactly how great, no one could tell at that time. Not even scientists were interested in the find until two years later.
When research began on the site, paleontologists were sure they were dealing with prehistoric human footprints. However, a number of delays prevented work from progressing.
Another eight years passed, but today, the footprint site was finally properly excavated. With over 400 footprints, it is now the largest collection of prehistoric human footprints ever found on the African continent.
The Prehistoric Human Footprints Could Be 19,000 Years Old
The site is located on the mudflat of Engare Sero, just nine miles from the Ol Doinyo Lengai active volcano. The volcano’s name means “Mountain of God” in the language of the Maasai people. Ash from the volcano, combined with mud is what helped preserve these footprints, which are said to be between 5,000 and 19,000 years old.
The prints are said to have belonged Homo Sapiens that lived in the Pleistocene era. The species had just embarked on the evolution that eventually turned it into the modern humans of today. The times were marked by big climate changes, not unlike the ones we are experiencing today.
Insight About The Lives Of Our Ancestors
The site is approximately the size of a tennis court, with the prints scattered all around it, varying in density. Paleontologists have named one small area “the dance hall,” because they have never seen so many footprints in one place.
That’s not to say that our ancestors were actually dancing in that area. While that would have been interesting, it seems that most of the prehistoric human footprints were made by women and children. About a dozen prints indicate a larger group moving southwest, for unknown purposes.
Other individual prints indicate early humans running through the mud at 4.5 miles per hour. One print was said to have been made by a foot with a broken toe.
Paleontologists still have a lot of research to do. The site is said to bring forth many insights and previously unknown details about the lives of our ancestors.
Research leader Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce hopes that the site will be properly preserved in time. Should anything happen to the site, the scientists can reproduce it the help of 3D printing.
Image source: Wikipedia