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Discovery of Ancient Footprints Could Change Our Understanding of Human History

Discovery of Ancient Footprints Could Change Our Understanding of Human History

In the county of Norfolk, U.K., amazing new evidence of Britain’s first human inhabitants has been discovered. Around 50 footprints, made by members by an early species of prehistoric humans almost a million years ago, have been revealed by coastal erosion near the Norfolk village of Happisburgh, on the North Sea coast of England, about two hours north of London.

Ironically, the sea tides that exposed the prints in May 2013 destroyed them within two weeks, leaving only casts and 3D images made through photogrammetry, the stitching together of hundreds of photographs.

Why Is This Discovery So Important?

The team of experts from the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and Queen Mary University of London believe that this is one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in Britain. They also point out its international significance, as the footprints are the first of such great age ever found outside Africa.

And even there, only a few other examples, all in Kenya and Tanzania, have ever been found.

The prints are more than twice the age of the previous oldest in Europe, from southern Italy and dated to around 345,000 years.

Previous to this find, the oldest footprints found in Britain were just 7,500 years old, a tiny fraction of the age of the newly revealed example.

How Were the Footprints Discovered?

All 50 footprints were found on a small 40 square meter patch of former mud flat which had been buried for hundreds of thousands of years under sand and clay dumped there by Ice Age glaciers. The discovery is turning assumptions about the history of humans on its head.

From The Guardian:

The pattern of the prints suggests at least five individuals heading southward, pausing and pottering about to gather plants or shellfish along the bank. They included several children. The best preserved prints, clearly showing heel, arch and four toes one may not have left a clear impression is of a man with a foot equivalent to a modern size 8 shoe, suggesting an individual about 5ft 7ins (1.7 metres) tall.

“This is an extraordinarily rare discovery,” said Nick Ashton, a scientist at the British Museum where the find was announced. “The Happisburgh site continues to rewrite our understanding of the early human occupation of Britain and indeed of Europe.”

The village, with just about 1400 inhabitants, had already become famous in 2010, when flint tools over 800,000 years old were unearthed. This was the oldest evidence of human occupation anywhere in the U.K.

Now archaeologists are busy trying to determine the precise age of the footprints. They have so far succeeded in narrowing it down to two possible dates — around 850,000 years ago or 950,000 years ago.

Mary Anning and the Fossils

All this is very reminiscent of Mary Anning, the famous fossil hunter from my mother’s home town of Lyme Regis, Dorset, on the south coast of England, whose discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time. They provided evidence that was central to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth.

In the early 19th century, scientists were just beginning to appreciate the significance of fossils — recognizing them as the remains of long-extinct creatures, rather than the rare skeletons of still-living animals.

Mary Anning was just 12-years-old when she found an ichthyosaur skeleton on the English coast, and she discovered the first-ever plesiosaur fossil ten years later. She continued to astound the British scientific establishment with her discoveries, and is credited with forcing geologists to re-think the history of our planet.

Now it seems that the discovery of these footprints in Norfolk will encourage scientists to re-consider their previous assumptions about the history of the human race.

Stay tuned!

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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226 comments

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4:35AM PDT on Mar 9, 2014

This is very interesting. I'd like to know on what basis they have determined that the footprints are so old though; nothing that I've read about this story here or elsewhere has explained this, and it's quite convenient that the footprints have now been washed away so no-one can go there and validate this.

5:20AM PST on Feb 27, 2014

i really think not, especially with people who refuse to believe in evolution

8:45PM PST on Feb 25, 2014

@Leigh claims: Scientists have actually discovered evidence of a flood of this magnitude dated to around 5000 - 7000 years ago.

Really? There are numerous flood myths/stories in cultures everywhere. The Tigris and Euphrates somehow didn’t lose their way. Mesopotamia was the scene of numerous floods. I think either the Epic of Gilgamesh, or the Enuma Elish also had flood stories. Secondly, what magnitude have you concluded it is a reference to?

@Leigh asks: Also can you give me a reference point to your statement "the sons of god found favor with the daughters of men and mated with them." I didn't find this in Genesis but maybe I missed it. Speak to you soon.

Genesis Chapter 6:1-2

8:44PM PST on Feb 25, 2014

@Leigh says: Hey Michael T I couldn't understand what you meant in your post. Could you be more specific in the detail of your contradiction claim about the two separate stories.

Try spending some time with these two parts of Genesis 1:25-26, 1:27, 2:18-19, 2:18-22

@Leigh claims: The first five books in the Bible were all written by the same person.

Really? Your evidence for this is . . . ? And who would that author be?

@Leigh asks: Why do you state "the faux flood story"? What makes you believe that it didn't happen?

http://www.oldearth.org/44-138-1-PB.pdf The Defeat of Flood Geology by Flood Geology

Peter Senters PDF saved to Flood Story

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html

Problems with a Global Flood Second Edition

http://www.biblicalnonsense.com/chapter6.html

101 Reasons why Noah’s Story Doesn’t Float

2:28PM PST on Feb 25, 2014

Hey Michael T

I couldn't understand what you meant in your post. Could you be more specific in the detail of your contradiction claim about the two separate stories. The first five books in the Bible were all written by the same person.

Why do you state "the faux flood story"? What makes you believe that it didn't happen? Scientists have actually discovered evidence of a flood of this magnitude dated to around 5000 - 7000 years ago.

Also can you give me a reference point to your statement "the sons of god found favor with the daughters of men and mated with them."

I didn't find this in Genesis but maybe I missed it.

Speak to you soon.

12:13AM PST on Feb 20, 2014

verry cool find, don't really see how its like Mary Anning.

7:58PM PST on Feb 19, 2014

can you name one???? HAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAA Thats hilarious.

6:01PM PST on Feb 19, 2014

Oh Yes @Leigh. I can name several even quite a number. I'll start with the very first book.

Just for starters, it has two separate stories for instance regarding the creation and they conflict with one another. It is very likely they were incorporated by the books later editors as they came from previous belief systems in herited from the Sumerians. But that is just a teaser to get things started. I have an additional one to tell of.

Did @Doug call you in because he fared so poorly?

But let us make this fair. You have to explain the following.

Later, in Genesis, and I believe it was after the faux flood story, the sons of god found favor with the daughters of men and mated with them.


3:12PM PST on Feb 19, 2014

Michael T

"I, more simply, find that blindly accepting something just because it is called a bible actually tragic. The contradictions within it are astounding."

Are they really? Can you name one?

10:53AM PST on Feb 19, 2014

@Dennis

It was very exciting. Had he not said anything about who he was on the plane I would never have recognized him. I had always been interested in archaeology, anthropology and similar sciences and news of how old our civilization is, how our ancestors lived and all information about where we came from.

Later in life when given the opportunity I participated in working with an archaeological team sponsored by a local university to work on recovering pre-Columbian artifacts (pottery shards, arrow and spear points, as well as cutting instruments) and explore and document their campsites. I was even hired to do illustrations and diagrams by the university that were later used in a presentation at the campus.

If you check my profile page and click on the Art album, you will find an ink drawing that shows a small segment of one of the large illustrations I did. It is an image depicting a campfire with a bowl and such. BTW all the artwork in the Art Album are pictures I created either with regular artistic materials (paints, pens etc.), computerized art programs (Canvas 4.0), photographs, including some that have been photo-shopped.

So I was certainly influenced by Dr. D. Johansen and my visit with him that day.

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