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Oldest footprints of humans in Europe unearthed

United Kingdom,Science/Tech, Sun, 09 Feb 2014 IANS

London, Feb 9 (IANS) In a major find, archaeologists have discovered oldest human footprints in Europe - pressed into the mud more than 800,000 years ago.

"They are without doubt the oldest human footprints in Europe and some of the oldest in the world," Simon Parfitt, an archaeologist with the Natural History Museum here, was quoted as saying.

A storm exposed the footprints at the coastal site of Happisburgh in Norfolk in England.

Scientists examined the fragile prints before they were washed away by waves within just two weeks.

Images and 3D models, along with sediment cores from the site, suggest the impressions, left by a group of at least 12 people, are among the earliest ever found.

Britain would have been connected to mainland Europe and the River Thames flowed nearby Happisburgh - creating freshwater pools and marshes on the floodplain.

Scientists are yet to discover any fossilised bones of the people who left their footprints at Happisburgh.

"But we know that in southern Europe, there is a species called Homo antecessor. It is possible that these tracks are actually the footprints left by that early human species," explained Parfitt in a report published in the journal PLOS ONE.



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