The discovery of footprints of ancient human species

The discovery of footprints of ancient human species

“It’s a special find, because fossil footprints are very rare,” Spohr said. “There are a lot of them in the place where these footprints were found, but they’re basically from all kinds of animals.” When the footprints were originally found in 1976, they were thought to be traces of a bear walking on its hind legs, but new analysis shows they must be traces of a now-extinct human species.

more like a monkey

“The shape of the steps is very different from the other steps we know from this site,” Spohr says. “Everyone assumes they belong to Australopithecus afarensis – the hominid we know from Lucy. This appears to be a more primitive foot, shorter and wider, and probably still has a large toe that it can grip, as we see in great apes.”


The tracks indicate an unusual walking style, somewhat similar to a mannequin walking on the catwalk. At the same time, we know very little about the species that left these marks. “What we do know is that during that period, about 3.7 million years ago, many human species lived side by side. Until recently, we thought there was only one species of hominid, Lucy. If we still think so, this would have been The discovery is more controversial. But other species have already been found in Kenya and Ethiopia, so they seem to fit together.”

More and more discoveries indicate that the human family tree consists of all kinds of different human species, which also sometimes had offspring with each other. So some scholars want to get rid of the family tree metaphor that points to a single ancestry. It would be better to talk about a network with all kinds of branches and connections.

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