“Fossilized footprints are rarely found in archaeological sites, although are (known) coming from coastal areas where they are sometimes exposed by erosion,” Duncan McLaren, lead study author in addition to assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Victoria in addition to the Hakai Institute, wrote in an email.
During the last ice age, which ended around 11,700 years ago, many researchers believe, humans moved coming from Asia using a land bridge to reach North America — at that will point the west coast of British Columbia in addition to south coastal regions of Canada.
nevertheless the item’s not an easy route for researchers to investigate. Today, Canada’s Pacific coast will be covered with dense forests in addition to can be reached only by boat. nevertheless Calvert Island was worth the trouble because during that will ice age, the sea level there was between 6 in addition to 9 feet lower than the item will be at that will point.
The researchers were looking for archaeological evidence of plant fossils in addition to deposits. They weren’t expecting to find footprints.
First, they found one. that will changed the direction of their research, in addition to during more excavations, they uncovered a total of 29 footprints. There were some other partial footprint-like depressions, nevertheless evidence of trampling made them harder to discern.
The 29 footprints had distinct sizes, showing three barefoot individuals. Impressions of their arches, toes in addition to heels were clearly visible. They might equate today which has a woman’s size 8-9, a junior’s size 8 in addition to a woman’s size 3. Some of the heel prints tend to drag, implying that will they slipped from the shoreline mud.
They aren’t in a line nevertheless rather a congregation of footprints showing concentrated activity from the area. Some are side by side, suggesting that will an individual stood with feet slightly apart, facing inland.
“Primarily the three different sizes of footprints found conjures up the image of a nuclear family or smaller group of people using the area,” McLaren wrote. “Most of the footprints face inland … in addition to they may represent a place where people were disembarking coming from watercraft before moving to a drier area.”
that will finding will be particularly impactful because archaeological evidence of humans from the area during that will time period will be lacking. nevertheless their presence may explain some other archaeological finds in nearby in addition to surrounding areas.
“the item shows that will early peoples from the Americas were using watercraft to explore in addition to thrive in outer coastal areas,” McLaren said. “the item adds to the body of evidence that will the coast was a viable means by which peoples reached the Americas during the last ice age.”
Going forward, he said, researchers are particularly interested in finding the area where these people lived.
“that will line of research will be truly in its infancy on the coast,” McLaren said. “We are working to collect more information on areas that will were ice free during the last ice age in addition to reconstructing where sea level was at different times in different places. that will paleo-environmental work will then be used to inform the search for early period sites along the formerly glaciated Pacific shoreline of Canada.”
These aren’t the oldest footprints found: Early human footprints in Africa have been dated to 3.6 million years ago. nevertheless the rarity of fossilized footprints, in addition to where they were found, tells an interesting story.
“These tracks are faint, nevertheless the size, shape in addition to number of tracks are convincing,” Neil Thomas Roach of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University wrote in an email. Roach was unaffiliated with the study.
“While the presence of modern humans along the Pacific coast of Canada 13,000 years ago shouldn’t be surprising, that will intensive usage of that will coastline environment that will has not been shown before,” he said.
“I think that will study raises more questions than the item answers, which will be a not bad thing. Only with further study in addition to excavation of these shoreline surfaces will we fully understand how many track makers were present, what they were doing on these landscapes, in addition to how important shoreline environments were to their survival.”