Ancient fossil footprints have recently been discovered at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. The fossil footprints, which was first spotted by the park’s Resource Manager David Bustos, is found to belong to some of the first humans who walked the earth in North America.
A joint research from archeologists and researchers from Bournemouth University, the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Cornell University, and the University of Arizona had been led to learn more about the origins of these markings. After collected needed data experts were able to reveal that the footprints are 21,000 to 23,000 years old. This is several thousands of years before humans were originally believed to have arrived on the continent.
Matthew Bennett, a professor of environmental and geographic sciences at Bournemouth University and the lead author of the study elaborated on the subject and explained that, “It’s the earliest unequivocal evidence for humans in the Americas. A footprint is a really good, unequivocal data point. That’s the importance of this site—we know they were there…There are multiple footprint layers spanning a significant amount of time, suggesting a sustained human presence in the area during the Last Glacial Maximum, as opposed to a single event.”
The area which are mostly desert now, was a verdant wetland at the time these footprint impressions were made. It is believed that people likely hunted there as those areas were also populated by prehistoric animals such as mammoths, giant ground sloths, dire wolves, and wild camels.
Experts discovered that the fossilised human footprints were originally formed in soft mud on the banks of what used to be a shallow lake.
Scientists used a process called radiocarbon dating to analyse and establish a timeline from the footprints and from seeds found embedded in the prints. Kathleen Springer of the U.S. Geological Survey stated that, “Our dates on the seeds are tightly clustered and maintain stratigraphic order above and below multiple footprint horisons this was a remarkable outcome.”