Early human footprints

Early human footprints

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Credit: PASQUALE SORRENTINO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Early human footprints. Researchers working by floodlight on fossilized footprints in volcanic rock on the Roccamonfina volcano, near Naples, Italy. Known locally as "devil's tracks", these footprints were identified as human in 2003, and have been dated to 385,000-325,000 years ago. Adolfo Panarello (right) is measuring a footprint. Marco Avanzini (left) is working with a computer reconstruction that shows the tracks zig-zagging down the slope. The size of the tracks, made in volcanic ash from an eruption, indicates that they were made by a bipedal erect hominid, 1.5 metres tall. The age indicates that they were made by Homo heidelbergensis, a descendent of Homo erectus and an ancestor of modern man (Homo sapiens).

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