Pre-human Footprints Dated to 6 Million Years Ago

The story of human evolution spans millions of years with relatively little evidence to guide us. What evidence is found often takes years to analyze, and even then it's still like a small piece of a huge jigsaw puzzle, one in which we don't know what the completed picture will be.

A set of very old fossilized footprints were found near the village of Trachilos on the island of Crete in 2017. Were they human? They had some, but not all, features of bipedalism, which is currently the (albeit fuzzy) line drawn between Homo and our ape ancestors.

A new study out of Eberhard Karls University in Germany dates the footprints to 6.05 million years ago, or 350,000 years older than previously thought. That would place them earlier than any Homo species, and even earlier than Australopithecus afarensis. They could be footprints of Graecopithecus freybergi, a primate that lived seven million years ago.

Is it possible that our primate ancestors came down from the trees much earlier than we thought? Another startling realization is that these footprints were found in Europe. Crete was connected to the Greek mainland six million years ago. The findings may shed new light on primate migration from the dawn of mankind. Read more about the footprints at ScienceAlert

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