Human evolution: pre-human foot prints (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Monday, October 11, 2021, 18:50 (11 days ago) @ David Turell

About six million years ago in Crete:

https://phys.org/news/2021-10-oldest-footprints-pre-humans-crete.html

"The oldest known footprints of pre-humans were found on the Mediterranean island of Crete and are at least six million years old, says an international team of researchers

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"The footprints from fossilized beach sediments were found near the west Cretan village of Trachilos and published in 2017. Using geophysical and micropaleontological methods, researchers have now dated them to 6.05 million years before the present day, making them the oldest direct evidence of a human-like foot used for walking. "The tracks are almost 2.5 million years older than the tracks attributed to Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy) from Laetoli in Tanzania," Uwe Kirscher says. This puts the Trachilos footprints at the same age as the fossils of the upright-walking Orrorin tugenensis from Kenya. Finds connected with this biped include femurs, but there are no foot bones or footprints.

"The dating of the Cretan footprints therefore sheds new light on the early evolution of human perambulation more than six million years ago. "The oldest human foot used for upright walking had a ball, with a strong parallel big toe, and successively shorter side toes," says Per Ahlberg, professor at Uppsala University and co-author of the study. "The foot had a shorter sole than Australopithecus. An arch was not yet pronounced and the heel was narrower."

"Six million years ago, Crete was connected to the Greek mainland via the Peloponnese. According to Professor Madelaine Böhme, "We cannot rule out a connection between the producer of the tracks and the possible pre-human Graecopithecus freybergi." Several years ago, Böhme's team identified that previously unknown pre-human species in what is now Europe on the basis of fossils from 7.2 million-year-old deposits in Athens, just 250 kilometers away.

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"Recent research in paleoanthropology also suggested that the African ape Sahelanthropus could be ruled out as a biped, and that Orrorin tugenensis, which originated in Kenya and lived 6.1 to 5.8 million years ago, is the oldest pre-human in Africa, Böhme says. Short-term desertification and the geographic distribution of early human predecessors could therefore be more closely related than previously thought. On the one hand, a desertification phase 6.25 million years ago in Mesopotamia could have initiated a migration of European mammals, possibly including apes, to Africa. On the other hand, the second-phase sealing off of the continents by the Sahara 6 million years ago could have enabled a separate development of the African pre-human Orrorin tugenensis in parallel with a European pre-human. According to this principle, called "desert swing" by Böhme, successive short-term desertifications in Mesopotamia and the Sahara caused a migration of mammals from Eurasia to Africa."

Comment: Crete is not Africa but it seems early hominins were African, so these footprints pose an origin puzzle. Obviously climate plays a large role.


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