Archaeologists in Canada have discovered human footprints that date back to the most recent Ice Age. These were detected on Calvert Island, off the coast of British Columbia a little north of Vancouver. The 29 footprints, discovered during excavations, are believed to be as many as 13,000 years old.
Researchers believe these to be the oldest human footprints yet discovered in North America. They could provide evidence that humans arrived in this part of the Pacific Northwest earlier than archaeologists had previously thought. The excavations that revealed the footprints took place in between 2014 and 2016.
Why Are Scientists So Stunned by This Discovery?
Scientists from the Hakai Institute, a research institution dedicated to investigating remote areas of British Columbia, and from Canada’s University of Victoria used radiocarbon dating to estimate the age of the footprints. This revealed them to be between 12,633 and 13,317 years old.
The footprints were initially made in wet clay, which was then covered by sediment. This latter helped preserve them. Bare human feet could have left behind these prints, according to the researchers. These most resemble and corresponded to two adults and a child.
Duncan McLaren, an anthropologist with the Hakai Institute, was the lead author of the recently-published study. McLaren and his co-authors concluded that the footprints provide evidence that this part of the Pacific Northwest Coast was no longer covered in an ice sheet well before the end of the Ice Age.
Researchers have also found tools on Calvert Island and the nearby Triquet Island. The tools seem to indicate that the prehistoric inhabitants were seafarers. Evidence increasingly suggests that North American cultures were able to thrive during the Ice Age.
Archaeological discoveries of this kind are extremely rare since very little of the human past has been preserved for 12,000 years or more. With this discovery of the oldest human footprints known in North America, Canadian researchers have added to the ever-growing picture of the first human migrations from Asia to the Americas during the last Ice Age.
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