Paleoanthropologist Charles Helm of Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha, South Africa, and his colleagues reported the discovery of some 100,000-year-old footprints likely made by early humans wearing shoes.
“We don’t claim to have conclusive evidence of this,” says Charles Helm, but he explains that the traces found were most likely left by people wearing shoes. If the assumption is confirmed, the discovery will force us to reconsider human evolution. After all, it will prove that ancient people, including Neanderthals, could wear shoes more than 100 thousand years ago.
According to New Scientist, sensational prints are found at three archaeological sites in South Africa. It is difficult to determine exactly when people started wearing shoes. But this find in any case is the oldest among its kind.
The unusual ancient footprints, as the authors of the discovery suggest, could have been left by a hominid wearing something like sandals.
Four such prints were immediately discovered in the Garden Route National Park. Traces of human feet are clearly visible on the fossilized slab, which at the time when people walked on it was probably coastal clay.
Scientists note that the shape of the footprints clearly indicates that they were left by humans. But there are no fingerprints, although if the foot were bare, they should have remained in at least one of the footprints.
In addition, scientists noticed tiny depressions running in a row along the edges of the prints. They believe that these may be traces of the “laces” with which primitive shoes were tied to the feet. Similar prints have also been found at archaeological sites in Eddo Elephant and Guacamma National Parks.
The authors of the discovery say that indigenous peoples still wear primitive footwear that resembles sandals. A comparative analysis showed that the footprints of such shoes, left on the wet sand of the coastal strip, are very similar to the fossilized footprints found.
Let us add that researchers have not yet been able to reliably date the fossils. Preliminary dating showed that the traces could have been left between 73 and 148 thousand years ago.