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Ancient footprints found in BC earliest known in North America

Ancient footprints found in BC earliest known in North America

A team of scientists found 29 footprints in total on Calvert Island, which lies off Canada's West Coast.

For the study, the researchers excavated intertidal beach sediments along the shoreline of Calvert Island, British Columbia. Interestingly, the layout of the footprints suggested that this beach was something of a gathering area; the people who left the prints were moving about in different directions rather than walking together in a line. The footprints appear to be from two adults and a child. The hypothesis is that in the waning years of the last ice age, humans are thought to have traveled south along the Pacific Coast after entering North America via a land bridge from what is now Siberia.

What researchers thought to be a 40,000-year-old trackway in central Mexico has since been attributed to recent quarrying activity, the article says.

The research, which was published in the journal PLOS One, explains how these tracks may support one particular theory of human migration into the continent. The footprints may also point to the existence of a phenomenon called 'the Kelp Highway,' a long string of kelp forests that allowed early people to survive along the coasts of North America.

The prints were carbon-dated to be between 11,000 and 14,000 years old, placing them around the end of the last ice age, when sea levels were about six to 10 feet lower than they are now.

"It's not only the footprints themselves that are spectacular and so rare in archeological context, but also the age of the site", said Michael Petraglia, an archeologist from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany who edited the paper for PLOS One but was not involved in the work. Scientists discovered 29 footprints belonging to humans. "They left their footprints in the grey clay and then they were subsequently filled by this black sand, which essentially preserved the footprints".

The footprints had distinct sizes, showing three barefoot individuals. Various plants and animals thrived along the Kelp Highway.

The study said it was possible that humans got there using primitive watercraft.

Dozens of ancient footprints, one of which is shown at the dig site on a British Columbia island, have been confirmed as the earliest known of their kind in North America.

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