Researchers have come across human footprints believed to date 5.7 Million years which challenge everything we thought we knew about human evolution.
The hominin footprints discovered in Crete may put the established narrative of early human evolution to a painstaking test.
The reason because of this is that the footprints, which have been dated to approximately 5.7 million years were made in Crete at a time when previous scientific research puts our ancestors in Africa–and with ape-like feet.
This means that either the previous scientific timelines are incorrect, and scientists have put forward incomplete theories and studies, or the out of Africa theory needs to be greatly reconsidered.
Well-preserved footprints. (a–c) The three most well-preserved footprints from surface B2, each shown as a photo (left), laser surface scan (middle) and scan with interpretation (right). a was made by a left foot, b and c by right feet. Scale bars, 5 cm. 1–5 denote digit number; ba, ball imprint; he, heel imprint.
In fact, ever since scientists discovered the fossils of Australopithecus in Africa during the 20th century, it was believed that human lineage could be traced back to one specific location.
Furthermore, recent fossil discoveries (also in Africa) including the well-known 3.7 million-year-old Laetoli footprints from Tanzania which are evidence of human-like feet and upright locomotion, have greatly helped the idea that early humans not only originated in Africa but remained isolated there for several million years before dispersing to Europe and Asia.
However, the discovery of the footprints in Crete completely overthrows this simple idea, suggesting there is a far greater complexity in play.
“What makes this controversial is the age and location of the prints,” says Professor Per Ahlberg at Uppsala University, author of the study.
“This discovery challenges the established narrative of early human evolution head-on and is likely to generate a lot of debate. Whether the human origins research community will accept fossil footprints as conclusive evidence of the presence of hominins in the Miocene of Crete remains to be seen,” concludes Per Ahlberg.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.