|27 December 2019
Footprints of Ice Age mammoths and prehistoric humans
One of the largest collections of vertebrate animal tracks from the Ice Age can be found preserved on a dried lake bed called Alkali Flat, at White Sands National Monument in south central New Mexico USA, about 1,300 kilometres east of Los Angeles.
Locally referred to as 'ghost tracks' they're extremely difficult to see, but researchers using ground-penetrating radar at the site have now been able not only to identify and map tracks made by big animals such as mammoths and giant ground sloths, but also those of the humans that hunted them.
Examination of the radar images reveals something resembling 'hooks' below the bases of the mammoth footprints - possibly from compression of the sediment at the time the tracks were made - which could provide crucial information about the way the animals walked. The pressure data from the mammoth footprints closely resembles those of modern elephants.
Scientists believe the radar can be used to map human footprints at other sites, and image the pressure patterns beneath dinosaur tracks. Radar imaging allows study of how these ancient creatures walked without disturbing the fossil footprints, and has huge advantages for conservation.
Edited from The Next Web (22 December 2019)
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