|16 July 2016
Human skeletons reveal ancient hunting techniques
800,000 years ago, a small hunting party enclosed on a herd of antelope, leaving only behind their footprints. These were recently discovered by anthropologists and determined to be 'multiple' individuals of the Homo erectus species in a desert located in southern Eritrea.
The footprints cover an area of 280 square feet (26 square metres) on a stone slab of sandstone, where they represent the oldest footprints discovered in the area. It is hoped that these footprints will reveal how Homo erectus walked. It is believed that this species is the first to have walked upright on two legs and be recognizable as human. The footprints were discovered in the middle of the Danakil desert at a site near Buia, which is thought to have been home to a Homo erectus community living there up to one million years ago.
The excavations at the site are being lead by Professor Alfredo Coppa, from La Sapienza University in Rome. The prints were found to be moving north/south parallel to prints left by a now extinct species of antelope.
Professor Coppa said that: "The footprints were made by more than one individual and could reveal new details about the foot anatomy and movement of these human ancestors." Adding that "Due to their ephemeral nature in soft sediments, footprints tend to be altered and eroded very quickly."
The footprints also give a unique glimpse into the lives of Homo erectus individuals in motions with their contemporary ecosystem hundreds of thousand years ago. This specific species is a key part in the human evolution. The footprints themselves were found to resemble those of modern humans, which could indicate a more modern way of movements and walking.
Professor Coppa has stated that: "We will return in November to try to have a broader and more detailed documentation that can look at body mass, height, weight and sociability of the group." His team has also recovered several teeth and part of a skull at two sites in the Danakil past, also having found five or six individuals.
Whether or not the hunters in question caught their prey is uncertain, but the archaeological evidence left behind has withstood the test of time.
Edited from Mail Online (20 June 2016), Australian Network News (22 June 2016)
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