Monday, March 2, 2009
Footprints that are 1.5 million years old
WASHINGTON: - Footprints uncovered in Kenya show that as early as 1.5 million years ago, an ancestral species - almost certainly Homo erectus - had already evolved the feet and walking gait of modern humans.
An international team of scientists, in a report published yesterday in the American journal Science, said that the well-defined prints in an eroding bluff east of Lake Turkana 'provided the oldest evidence of an essentially modern humanlike foot anatomy'.
The experts said the find also added to evidence that painted a picture of Homo erectus as the prehumans who took long evolutionary strides - figuratively and, now it seems, also literally.
Where the individuals who made the tracks were going, or why, is beyond knowing by the cleverest scientists.
The variability of the separation between some steps, researchers said, suggests that they were picking their way over an uneven surface, muddy enough to leave a mark - an unintended message from an extinct species for the contemplation of its descendants.
NEW YORK TIMES