Ancient Footprints Reveal Path to Humanity

Tracks in Kenya are 1.5 million years old
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2009 3:12 AM CST
Professor Matthew Bennett of Bournemouth University poses on the main fossil footprint trail in Ileret, Kenya.   (AFP/Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Scientists have unearthed ancient footprints that reveal humanity's ancestors walked with a modern stride as long as 1.5 million years ago, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Researchers believe the tracks—left beside a muddy river bank in Kenya and preserved when the river changed course—belong to human ancestor Homo erectus, and provide vital clues to how humanity began.

Scientists say the prints were made by creatures that walked exclusively upright on feet much like our own, allowing them to travel easily across open spaces and even to run long distances. The researchers say they were stunned to uncover such familiar-looking footprints in the ancient sediment. "These could quite easily have been made on the beach today," said one archaeologist.
(Read more archaeology stories.)