8,00,000-year old fossilized footprints found in the desert of South Eritrea

Researchers digging in the desert of South Eritrea have located the fossilized prints that may belong to Homo Erectus, a species of Hominid which is considered to be direct ancestors to modern humans. It is estimated that the footprints are approximately 8,00,000 years old.

The footprints are supposedly size-12, indicating that such tall individuals once walked on the face of desert in South Eritrea. To be precise, they have been found in sandy sediments along the shores of what was once a large lake surrounded by grasslands.

The footprints have been excavated by a team of The National Museum of Eritrea and Rome’s La Sapienza University. This particular excavation site (Aalad-Amo) is now occupied by the semi-arid desert.

Alfredo Coppa from Rome’s La Sapienza University, the Anthropologist who led the dig, informed Discovery News, “The prints are preserved on a hardened sandy sediment that was partly flooded. So far, we have been able to bring to light, a portion of 85 square feet”.

The Anthropologist further stated that the footprints belonged to several individuals and moved from North to South as imprinted on a slab of stone. He further informed that the individuals might be following an antelope-like animal as its footprints have also been recognised within the trackway.

Coppa also stated that “Home Erectus was the only Hominid species that inhabited the area at that time. Indeed, these could be the first clearly recognisable Homo Erectus’s footprints”.

For the understanding of evolution, Homo Erectus is imperative in understanding different stages of human evolutionary history. This large-brained specie emerged around 8000 years ago and wet extinct in Africa around 8,00,000-7,00,000 years ago.

Coppa further noted that the Footprints can offer a lot of info about the body mass, gait and it is possible to extract behavioural patterns if the footprints belong to different individuals. Such info cannot be concluded even if we have the fossilised skeletal or skull remains.