Ice Age footprints lead explorers to decode family life from thousands of years ago2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Our footprints are the marks we leave on the world. In the case of our ancestors from the Ice Age, this idea was quite literal.
A trackway dated 10,000 years ago left behind by a small adult and a toddler have been discovered at White Sands national Park in New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert. The tracks extend over a mile and indicate that for some part of the journey, the toddler walked independently and for other parts the toddler was carried by the adult.
Traces of a mammoth, giant sloth, and American lion have also been found in the park. Is anyone reminded of a movie, here?
Scientists have also found traces of our ancestors in Grotta della Basura, a cave in Liguria region or northern Italy. The cave was originally explored in the 1950s. Recently, a team of explorers took this study to another height when they retraced the movement of a family, two adults, one preadolescent, one six-year-old, and a three-year-old, that explored this cave too but some 14,000 years ago.
They entered the cave barefoot and illuminated their path by lighting wooden sticks. By studying 180 footprints and fingerprints, the researchers created a 3-D model where the family can be seen in a single line.
A chamber, called the Room of Mysteries, at the end of the path leads to smears of clay on the walls of the cave attributed to the children. These smears are characteristic of the Paleolithic finger painting.
Tracing the movements of our ancestors can reveal a lot to us about their behaviours and habits. This, in turn, could tell us a lot about our own origin.
Isn’t that fascinating!
Think with Owliver:
When did the Ice Age end and how?
Let Owliver know in the comments, below.
Image sourced from Isabelle Salvador, LiveScience