Oldest Known Human Footprints Discovered on Canada's Pacific Coast

Earliest Known Human Footprints in North America Found on Canadian Island

Footprints dating back 13,000 years have been discovered on the shoreline of a Canadian island. When the team was finished they had counted 29 in total, possibly belonging to two adults and a child.

The study says the discovery strengthens the hypothesis that the first humans who arrived in North America migrated from Asia via an ice-free land corridor along the coast before finally coming to what is now British Columbia. However, the only fossils that indicated such watercrafts were 3,000 years newer than the footprints.

The finding, which was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, adds support to the idea that some ancient humans from Asia ventured into North America by hugging the Pacific coastline, rather than by travelling through the interior.

"Our results suggest that humans were present on the west coast of British Columbia about 13,000 years ago, as it emerged from the most recent Ice Age", the scientists said.

"This finding provides evidence of the seafaring people who inhabited this area during the tail end of the last major ice age", McLaren said in a statement. Today, the area is covered with thick bogs and dense forests that the team, which included representatives from the Heiltsuk First Nation and Wuikinuxv First Nation, could only access by boat.

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"We were actively searching for archaeological sites along this lower shoreline when we came across the footprints". The prints were dated to around 13,000 years ago. Three distinct foot sizes were observed, all likely barefoot, as toe shapes could be made out in the prints.

Archaeologists in Canada have discovered dozens of ancient footprints that might be the earliest known evidence of human migration in North America. The footprints were found on a beach that is now mostly covered in vegetation.

The researchers believe there to be more even more footprints at the Calvert Island site, but are leaving them untouched. According to the researchers, the footprints were left in clay which preserved them until today. Older sets of human footprints have been found around the Americas, but generally further south than Calvert Island.

Research Article: McLaren D, Fedje D, Dyck A, Mackie Q, Gauvreau A, Cohen J (2018) Terminal Pleistocene epoch human footprints from the Pacific coast of Canada.

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