By: April Carson
According to a study, the oldest human-made structures discovered in New Mexico are between 21,000 and 23,000 years old.
In a new discovery in North America, scientists have found what they believe are the oldest human footprints. The tracks were made between 21-23 thousand years ago and dating back this far would make them among our earliest ancestors to leave behind such evidence of their passage here on earth! The prints were found in what's now called New Mexico.
The prints were discovered in the national park, with US Geological Survey scientists analyzing seeds trapped in the tracks to determine the age of the fossils. Researchers also found that the dozen footprints discovered belonged to a variety of individuals, largely children and teenagers.
Scholars have long believed humans first appeared in North America around 11,000 to 13 thousand years ago. However a recent discovery has cast this theory into doubt as footprints with similar characteristics are found throughout the continent and associated with what is known as Clovis culture. "The evidence is very convincing," says Tom Higham an archaeological scientist at University Vienna who specializes on radiocarbon dating. "There is no doubt that these footprints are ancient."
Clovis culture, named after a site found in New Mexico where the distinct stone tools were first discovered, flourished from 13 to 12 thousand years ago. The oldest human remains associated with the Clovis people is around 10 thousand years old. However, most of what we know today about this culture is based on the study of their distinctive stone tools. And although human footprints are not as durable as stone tools, they are just as informative.
"They are really exciting prints," says Higham about the Mckittrick tracks. "It is amazing that they survived all this time."
"It's exciting because it means we might finally be able throw out some of these old ideas about prehistory," says sociologist Brad Staub from Ohio State University In Nature Magazine.
These tracks may be the oldest ever found. The new research was conducted by experts from White Sands national park, US Geological Survey and Bournemouth University among others to find out if these prints are actually human in origin or not only older than 20 thousand years old!
This is a significant discovery because it could potentially change our understanding of human evolution as well provide insight into how people lived back then. Even" during the last ice age over 10 thousand years ago people were able to adapt their lives, despite being exposed to ice and snow every day.
The biggest question is how did they survive that long period of time in places where no other human beings are found?
The most popular hypothesis is the so-called Beringia which states that America was populated through an ice free corridor in North America.
Scientists are hoping to find more signs of life where the footprints were found, including old settlements or even tools used by these early settlers. If the team succeeds they will be able to learn a lot about our ancestors and their way of life.