The oldest known human print in the Western Hemisphere is the tiny track of a child’s foot in Chile dated to 13,000 ago — adding fodder to the ongoing debate about when humans first migrated to the New World.Though they may not clarify that controversy, the new findings from Cuatro Ciénegas do provide valuable insights into a time and region of North America that’s not very well understood, Felstead said.Since uranium decays into the element thorium at predictable rates, the scientists were able to measure the ratio of those materials to determine the specimens’ ages.Their results showed that the pair of tracks discovered in 1961, now housed at Saltillo’s Museo del Desierto, were about 10,550 years old.We’re unable to make first impressions in person, so we have to do the best we can through a photo and words.
The difference in age suggests that, while both sets of prints were made possible by the basin’s marshy, carbonate-rich sediments, the 11 recently discovered tracks are not from the same precise location as the pair found in the 1960s.
The region where the tracks were found is known to have been home to a somewhat amorphous culture known as the Coahuiltecans, a diverse group of nomadic hunter-gatherers that ranged from central Mexico to the Texas plains.
[Learn what mummified and bundled bodies found in south Texas reveal about ancient burial practices.] While many of these bands are known to have frequented Cuatro Ciénegas over thousands of years, the Coahuiltecans left precious little evidence that could be fixed to specific dates.
Research has revealed that the well preserved footprints are about 20,000 years old, and can tell some amazing stories.
They are the oldest footprints ever found in Australia and the largest set of ice age footprints in the world.