The oldest human footprints by continent

AFRICA

Laetoli, Tanzania. 3.66 million years (Ma).

  • Site G, found in 1978: 70 footprints made by three Australopithecus afarensis. Along with footprints were hominin and animal remains and Acheulean objects. The footprints are normally buried to protect them against the elements.
  • Site S (150 m away from Site G), found in 2015: 14 footprints made by two Australopithecus afarensis walking in the same time frame, in the same direction and at a similar moderate speed as the other three. One of them (hominin S1) had an average stature between 161-168 cm.

laetoli

Ileret, Kenya. 1.5 Ma.  They are 97 footprints left by at least 20 Homo erectus individuals, who had a modern foot and stride: a mid-foot arch, straight big toe and heel-to-toe weight transfer. The footprints are indistinguishable from our own.

Ileret

Ileret footprints. Photo: Hatala, K. G. et al. Footprints reveal direct evidence of group behavior and locomotion in Homo erectus. Sci. Rep. 6, 28766; doi: 10.1038/srep28766 (2016)

AFRICA (made by Homo sapiens)

Langebaan Lagoon, South Africa. 117 thousand years (ka). Called Eve’s footprint, because they are the oldest known footprints of an anatomically-modern human. This is very relevant considering that less than 40 hominin fossils from the period 100 to 200 ka have been found in Africa.

Langebaan-Lagoon

EUROPE

Happisburgh in Norfolk, UK. 850 ka. Assigned by many authors to Homo antecessor. Previously, the record for the oldest set of footprints in Britain was 7,500 years old, which pales in comparison to the Norfolk find.

Happisburgh

Credit: Martin Bates & Simon Parfitt

Roccamonfina volcano, Italy. 350 ka. They were the oldest footprints in Europe before the Norfolk find. Called the “devil’s trails”, they are preserved in volcanic ash atop the volcano. Assigned to Homo heildelbergensis.

Human footprints at Roccamonfina volcano. Credit: Mauro Fermariello

EUROPE (made by Homo sapiens)

Theopetra cave, Greece. Four human footprints preserved in a reddish clay sediment, in association with various posterior hearths along the same layer which are dated to 46,327 BP.

Theopetra footprints

Theopetra footprints. Photo credit: Facorellis et al, 2001

Ciur-Izbuc Cave, Romania. 36,500 years. More than 400 footprints!

Ciur-Izbuc-Cave

AMERICA

Pilauco, Chile. Dated to 15,600 years, and associated with megafauna bones, plant material and unifacial lithic tools. This site might represent further evidence for a pre-Clovis South American colonization of northern Patagonia, as proposed for the nearby Monte Verde site. Monte Verde is a 12,5 ka open-air site with remains of a small settlement of 20-30 people where a small child also left a footprint.

Moreno K et al (2019) A late Pleistocene human footprint from the Pilauco archaeological site, northern Patagonia, Chile. PLoS ONE 14(4): e0213572. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213572

Calvert Island, British Columbia, Canada. 29 footprints along the shoreline of Calvert Island published in 2015. They are believed to be of a man, woman and child. At the base of the footprint track, pieces of preserved wood were radiocarbon dated to c. 13,000 years.

Footprints at Calvert Island, B.C., USA

Footprints at Calvert Island, B.C., USA

White Sands National Park, New Mexico, USA. 10,000-14,500 years old (estimated overlap between megafauna extinction and known human presence in the area). The longest trackway of fossil footprints in the world (at least 1,5 km). A very straight course: the individual did not deviate from it, and followed the trackway back again a few hours later.

Credit: Matthew R. Bennett, Bournemouth University.

Chihuahuan desert, Mexico. 10,550 years. 2 footprints, left and right. At the same site there are 11 other footprints dated to 7,250 years.

Mexico

Lake Managua, Nicaragua. 6,000 years.

Nicaragua

AUSTRALIA

Willandra Lakes, New South Wales. 20,000 years.

Australia

ASIA

Margalla Hills, Pakistan. 2 footprints made by Homo erectus 1 million years ago.

Asia

ASIA (made by Homo sapiens)

Nefud, Desert, Saudi Arabia. 112,000-121,000 years. 7 human footprints that represent the oldest evidence of Homo sapiens presence in the region.

Credit: Stewart M. et al. (2020)

Jeju Island, Korea. More than 100 human footprints and other thousands of horse, elephant, bird and deer fossil tracks left 50,000 years ago. Further studies suggest a more recent dating of between 19-25 ka.

Jeju

13 pensamientos en “The oldest human footprints by continent

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  5. The footprints discovered in Bolivia by researcher and explorer Kathy Wills are missing from this article. Bolivian Geologists place the sandstone rock stratum these footprints are found in is between 2 and 11 million years old. These footprints are found atop a mountain in northern Bolivia at apx. 15,000′ elevation (4,500 meters). Press release and more details are available at the link below.

    http://www.xpeditions.tv/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=156&Itemid=661

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  7. What about the footprints found in the last few years on the beach in West Wales near the petrified forest? It looked like an adult and child.

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