Researchers in Canada have discovered footprints that are around 13,000-years-old making them one of the oldest ever found. The footprints were found on the shoreline of an island on Canada's Pacific coast and the discovery has some startling implications that may rewrite human history.
Researchers at the University of Victoria's Hakai Institute say they found a total of 29 fossilized footprints on Calvert Island. They dated the footprints to 13,000 years ago and say that using the shoreline could have been a guide for early humans. They also say they would have relied on the ocean for resources as they traveled South into the present-day United States.
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Scientists theorize that a mass migration occurred while the last ice age was still ongoing while the authors of the study say the barefoot prints indicate a variety of activity implying they weren't just passing through. The discovery is also said to add credence to a theory about Beringia, a territory in modern Siberia and Alaska that were likely connected at one point in time forming a massive land bridge.
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The study's authors said of the discovery, "This is important because archaeological sites from this time and place have been quite rare." The area where the footprints were found is covered with thick bogs and dense forests today that make the area very difficult to access.
The team of researchers, which included representatives from the Heiltsuk First Nation and Wuikinuxv First Nation, could only access the area by boat. The footprints are described as varying in size and pointing in different directions. They were able to arrive at the figure of 13,000-years-old using radiocarbon dating.
They expect the prints survived because they were found 60cm below the surface of the beach in clay and were probably preserved by the sand and thick gravel as well as a final layer of clay. Kevin Hatala, an assistant professor of biology at Chatham University said, "Ultimately, the data seem to show indisputable evidence for human presence along the Pacific Coast of Canada."
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