Ancient footprints redefine understanding of early life in America

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(Photo credit: National Park Service, USGS and Bournemouth University)
(Photo credit: National Park Service, USGS and Bournemouth University)

New Delhi : New discoveries have been made in understanding when humans first entered North America. The researchers found foot prints at New Mexico's White Sands National Park, which are believed to be from 23,000 years back to the Ice Age.

The foot prints were found in 2009 and have been studied closely; the report has been released in late September. The archeologists have got to know human migration in North America in a better way.

They have been described as "unequivocal evidence" that human activity had been taking place in the Americas long before what was originally thought.

Till date it was believed that humans entered North America 13000-16000 years ago after the melting of the North American ice sheets opened up migration routes.

The findings from the study have been published in the Journal Science that claims human habitation in the Americas during the Last Glacial Maximum, a time when ice sheets covered much of North America and as much as 10,000 years earlier than evidence has so far suggested.

The footprints found in the White Sand National Park are at least 23,000 years ago, making them the first 'unequivocal evidence' of human activity in North America.

"I think this is probably the biggest discovery about the peopling of America in a hundred years," said Ciprian Ardelean, an archaeologist at Autonomous University of Zacatecas in Mexico, according to The New York Times.

The research team believes the tracks belonged to numerous people, mostly children and teenagers with some of the tracks left by adults. They also discovered tracks from mammoths, giant ground sloths and dire wolves.