The oldest known pre-human footprints were found on the Mediterranean island of Crete

The oldest known pre-human footprints have been found on the Mediterranean island of Crete and are at least six million years old, according to an international team of researchers from Germany, Sweden, Greece, Egypt and Germany. England, led by Tübingen scientists Uwe Kirscher and Madelaine. Böhme from the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment at the University of Tübingen. Their study was published in the journal Scientific reports.

The fossilized beach sediment imprints were found near the western Cretan village of Trachilos and published in 2017. Using geophysical and micropaleontological methods, researchers have now dated them to 6.05 million years before the present day, which makes it the oldest direct evidence of a human being. like the foot used to walk. “The traces are almost 2.5 million years older than the traces attributed to Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy) from Laetoli in Tanzania, ”explains Uwe Kirscher.

The oldest known pre-human footprints were found on the Mediterranean island of Crete 3

This puts the Trachilos footprints at the same age as the standing walking fossils. Orrorin tugenensis from Kenya. Findings related to this bipedal include femurs, but there are no foot bones or footprints.

Researchers from Germany, Greece, Sweden, UK and Egypt led by Uwe Kirscher and Madelaine Bohme from the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and the Paleoenvironment at the University of Tübingen concluded that the footprints of steps are the earliest direct evidence of a human foot used for walking.

The dating of the Cretan footprints therefore sheds new light on the early evolution of human ambulation more than six million years ago. “The oldest human foot used for standing walking had a ball, with a strong parallel big toe and increasingly shorter lateral toes,” says Per Ahlberg, professor at Uppsala University and co-author of study. “The foot had a shorter sole than Australopithecus. An arch was not yet pronounced and the heel was narrower.

Six million years ago, Crete was connected to mainland Greece via the Peloponnese. According to Professor Madelaine Böhme, “We cannot exclude a link between the producer of the pieces and the possible pre-human Graecopithecus freybergi. “Several years ago, Böhme’s team identified this prehuman species previously unknown in what is now Europe on the basis of fossils from 7.2 million year old deposits in Athens, just 250 years old. kilometers.

The study further confirms the recent research and theses of the Böhme team, according to which six million years ago, continental Europe and the Near East were separated from humid East Africa by a relatively brief expansion. of the Sahara.

Geochemical analysis of six-million-year-old Cretan beach deposits suggests dust from the North African desert was blown there. The team arrived at an age of between 500 and 900 million years before the present when dating mineral grains the size of dust. These periods are typical of North African desert dust, the authors said.

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