Researchers Study The Oldest Human Footprints In America

Earliest Known Human Footprints in North America Found on Canadian Island

Scientists stumbled upon some footprints on an island in Canada which are proof that humans got there a lot earlier that we thought.

Researchers discovered 29 fossilized footprints on Calvert Island. If researchers find evidence that the people who made footprints on the island did travel there by boat, it would significantly move back our estimate of when humans first began to roam the seas. The prints appear to have been made by at least three individuals, and based on the size of the tracks, researchers believe they belonged to two adults and a child. The hypothesis is that in the waning years of the last ice age, humans are thought to have traveled south along the Pacific Coast after entering North America via a land bridge from what is now Siberia.

The research, which was published in the journal PLOS One, explains how these tracks may support one particular theory of human migration into the continent.

At the end of the ice age, from 11,000 to 14,000 years ago, the sea level was as much as 10 feet below what it is now.


During the excavation, the professor of anthropology and lead author Duncan McLaren (from the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria), has stated that they found 29 footprints. Today, the area is covered with thick bogs and dense forests that the team, which included representatives from the Heiltsuk First Nation and Wuikinuxv First Nation, could only access by boat. They still could see the prints came from different directions, so they assumed this beach was some sort of a gathering place for ancient humans.

Petraglia added , "It's not only the footprints themselves that are spectacular and so rare in archeological context, but also the age of the site". One piece of the wood and remnants of an ancient fire discovered nearby were radiocarbon-dated in 2015 to 13,200 years ago. Prior to this discovery, the oldest human footprints found in North America are thought to only be around 5,000 years old. The footprints were found on a beach that is now mostly covered in vegetation.

Research Article: McLaren D, Fedje D, Dyck A, Mackie Q, Gauvreau A, Cohen J (2018) Terminal Pleistocene epoch human footprints from the Pacific coast of Canada.

However, during that time, not everyone walked barefoot.

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