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The oldest traces of human ancestors Journal of Science

The oldest traces of human ancestors

In 1979, in Laetoli, Tanzania, the oldest known ancestral footprints were unearthedóin humans. The discovered prints belonged to dwówhich individualsów. In 2015, while working at a site in Laetoli about 150 metersóIn an earlier find, archaeologists have uncovered further traces of hominidów – probably Australopithecus afarensis.

The footprints were imprinted in volcanic tuff, whichóand hardened over time. Their age is estimated at over 3.5 million years. The new prints were discovered by accident during works on creation of a tourist attraction in the excavation area. Authorities have asked an expertóThe researchers from the University of Dar es Salam to assess the impact of construction works on the valuable find. The work was led by Fidelis Masao.

Researchers have found a 13th footprintóIn the course of time, the find has hardened into a large specimen and a single smaller one, probably of female sex. A large individual, whichóThe bird was named Chewie by experts – in honor of a human-like hero „Star Wars” Chewbacci – measured about 165 centimetersóat altitude. This is considerably more than the estimated growth of the owners of the imprintófound in the 1970s. making it the tallest Australopithecus afarensis known to date. Its weight was also determined, whichóThe weight of the bone fluctuated around 50 kilogramsów.

It seems that the traces follow the same direction as those discovered in the 1970s. WokóIt is a very interesting exhibit, because it is fossilized, that is, fossilizedóin the ancestoróAbout 500 prints have been found in humansóin ancient horses, rhinocerosóin, a birdóin and other animals.

Hominids thatóThey left footprints, moved in a manneróThe footprints were imprinted in volcanic tuff, which is very similar to theóof modern humans. This for the scientistsów is the key question whether they moved on legs bent at the hips and knees or more in an upright posture. It would shed light on the issue of evolution and the moment of adaptation of ancestorsóThe whole project is designed to help a person to stand upright. But experts can’t come to a clear conclusionóin this matter.

Finding new imprintsóThe technology has laid the groundwork for speculations on the social behaviour of our ancestorsów.

– If the owners of all the traceóin theólived together, you might think that this kind of social group was like a commonóEarly gorillas with one dominant male and a harem of females – said paleontologist Marco Cherin from the University of Perugia, whoóry took part in the excavation.

On the subject of traceóin our ancestorsófrom Laetoli, we’re sure to hear more. Excavations are expected to resume early next year.

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