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"Ancient Hominin or Mystery Primate?" --5.7 Million Year Old 'Unmistakably Human' Footprints Discovered 

 

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In a discovery that could challenge accepted theories of human evolution, researchers found 5.7 million years old unmistakably human-like footprints laid down in what is now Crete, that could belong to a previously unknown primate, and perhaps even an ancient hominin — an animal more closely related to humans than to chimps. The finding could take the trail of early human evolution beyond Africa. Earlier studies had suggested that all fossil hominins older than 1.8 million years (the age of early Homo fossils from Georgia) came from Africa, leading most researchers to conclude that this was where the group evolved.

“What makes this controversial is the age and location of the prints,” said one of the study authors Per Ahlberg, Professor at Uppsala University in Sweden. Ahlberg and his colleagues identified more than 50 fossil traces in an area less than 4 meters square. The animal responsible for the prints — left some 5.7 million years ago — was probably claw-less, bipedal, walked on the soles of its feet, and had other hominin-like characteristics according to Nature.com.

 

At approximately 5.7 million years, they are younger than the oldest known fossil hominin, Sahelanthropus from Chad, and contemporary of Orrorin from Kenya, but more than a million years older than Ardipithecus ramidus from Ethiopia, the oldest hominin known from reasonably complete fossils which has an ape-like foot.

 

Data

 

The researchers who described Ardipithecus argued that it is a direct ancestor of later hominins, implying that a human-like foot had not yet evolved at that time. This conflicts with the hypothesis that Ardipithecus is a direct ancestor of later hominins.

But the new footprints from Trachilos have a big toe similar to our own in shape, size and position. It is also associated with a distinct ‘ball’ on the sole, which is missing in apes.

The Trachilos footprints were securely dated using a combination of marine microfossils, plus the fact that they lay just below a very distinctive sedimentary rock formed when the Mediterranean Sea briefly dried out, 5.6 million years ago, during a period known as the late Miocene, when the Sahara Desert did not exist and savannah-like environments extended from North Africa up around the eastern Mediterranean and Crete had not yet detached from the Greek mainland.

The Daily Galaxy via Economic Times  and Nature.com 

Image credit top of page: With thanks to Bob Wilder at University at Buffalo 

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Comments

Paleontology, Anthropology, and History are nothing more than educated guesses - like AGW.
All the bones of pre-humans ever collected would fit in a shoe box with room left for the shoes.
Almost everything we know of the Roman Empire comes from one writers collection of works and that's only 1/4 complete. History is written by the winners and one perspective is never right.
Scientists make their living by getting published, as opposed to engineers doing it by making things work). Peer review has become a joke and consensus has nothing to do with science. This "find" will get interesting if it can be backed up with other evidence.
Course I once saw a paper speculating about the sex lives of an extinct whale based on a finger bone so who know's what they can come up with?

Foot steps on a beach tht was frequented by humans from before our history.

Not all that surprising, IMO. During the Messinian (7.2 to 5.3 million years ago) substantially lowered sea levels within the Mediterranean Sea created extensive land bridges between North Africa and Southern Europe. And the earliest hominins in North Africa are dated between 6.8 to 7.2 million years ago.

USexpat: You're 'supportive' paras 2 & 3 are simply untrue. Read some more. Your third I somewhat agree with and your fourth had to be found in a fevered dream.

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