An­cient foot­prints pro­vide mi­gra­tion clue

The Week (US) - - News 21 -

Ar­chae­ol­o­gists have un­earthed, on an is­land off Canada, what they be­lieve are the old­est foot­prints in North Amer­ica, boost­ing the the­ory that an­cient hu­mans first ex­plored the con­ti­nent by walk­ing along the Pa­cific coast. Dis­cov­ered be­neath the dense for­est and thick bogs of Bri­tish Columbia’s Calvert Is­land, the 29 prints date back 13,000 years, to the end of the last ice age. The size of the tracks sug­gests they were left by two adults and a child, walk­ing bare­foot on the beach, re­ports The New York Times. They face in­land, which may in­di­cate that the small group was com­ing ashore af­ter ar­riv­ing on the is­land by boat. It is widely be­lieved that hu­mans first mi­grated to North Amer­ica via a land bridge be­tween Asia and Alaska. But be­cause Canada was at the time cov­ered by two gi­ant ice sheets, it is un­clear how th­ese early set­tlers moved south. While some ar­chae­ol­o­gists be­lieve they trav­eled through an “ice-free cor­ri­dor” be­tween the two sheets, the Calvert Is­land foot­prints sug­gest that other peo­ple ven­tured into the con­ti­nent by hug­ging the Pa­cific coast­line. “This line of re­search is re­ally in its in­fancy,” says lead au­thor Dun­can McLaren, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of an­thro­pol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria and the Hakai In­sti­tute in Bri­tish Columbia. He and his team are now try­ing to lo­cate the set­tle­ments where th­ese coastal ex­plor­ers lived.

One of the foot­prints, dig­i­tally en­hanced

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