Excavation of the trail of Laetoli footprints.

Excavation of the trail of Laetoli footprints.

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Credit: JOHN READER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Trail of hominid footprints fossilized in volcanic ash. This 70 metre trail was found by Mary Leakey's expedition at Laetoli, Tanzania in 1978. It dates from 3.6 million years & shows that hominids had acquired the upright, bipedal, free- striding gait of modern man by this date. The trail probably belongs to Australopithecus afarensis & dates from 3.7 to 3.0 million years ago. The footprints show a well developed arch to the foot & no divergence of the big toe. They are of two adults with possibly a third set belonging to a child who walked in the footsteps of one of the adults. The prints to the far right belong to an hipparion, an extinct three-toed horse.

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Keywords: a. afarensis, anthropology, australopithecus afarensis, first, footprint, fossil man, hominid, hominid footprint, hominids, hominin, laetoli, laetoli footprint, palaeoanthropology, palaeontology, paleoanthropology, paleontology

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