Experts have discovered the first human footprints in Germany dating back 300,000 years.
The footprints are believed to be the oldest in the country and belonged to Homo heidelbergensis, an extinct subspecies of archaic humans that existed approximately 600,000 to 200,000 years ago.
They were found in the approximately 300,000-year-old Schoeningen Paleolithic site complex in Lower Saxony. This coal mining area has produced a number of archaeological discoveries since the 1990s.
Newsflash obtained a statement from the University of Tübingen on Thursday, May 12, saying that “an international research team led by scientists from the University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and the Paleoenvironment presents the first known human footprints in Germany. “.
The statement described what the scene would have been like at the time the footprints were made, saying: “In an open birch and pine forest with a grass understory lies a lake, a few kilometers long and several hundred meters wide. meters wide.
‘On its muddy shores, herds of elephants, rhinos and even-toed ungulates gather to drink or bathe. In the midst of this setting stands a small family from “Heidelberg people”, a long-extinct human species.’
Lead study author Dr. Flavio Altamura, a member of the University of Tübingen’s Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment (SHEP), said: “This is what Schoeningen in Lower Saxony might have looked like 300,000 years ago.”
He added: ‘For the first time, we carried out a detailed investigation of the fossil footprints of two sites in Schöningen.
“These footprints, together with information from sedimentological, archaeological, paleontological and paleobotanical analyses, give us information about the paleoenvironment and the mammals that once lived in this area.
“Among the footprints are three footprints that match hominin footprints: Dating back about 300,000 years, they are the oldest known human footprints in Germany and were probably left by Homo heidelbergensis.”
Scientists have attributed two of the three human footprints that were discovered to “young individuals who used the lake and its resources in a small group of mixed ages.”
Altamura said: ‘Depending on the season, there were plants, fruits, leaves, shoots and mushrooms available around the lake.
“Our findings confirm that the extinct human species inhabited the shores of lakes or rivers with shallow water.
“This is also known from other Lower and Middle Pleistocene sites with hominin footprints.”
The statement said: “The various tracks at Schöningen offer a snapshot of the daily life of a family and can provide insight into the behavior and social composition of hominid groups, as well as spatial interactions and coexistence with herds of elephants and other smaller mammals, according to the study.’
Altamura said: “Based on the tracks, including those of children and youth, this was probably a family outing rather than a group of adult hunters.”
The team also analyzed a series of elephant footprints “attributable to the extinct species Palaeoloxodon antiquus, a straight-tusked elephant that was the largest land animal at the time and whose adult bulls reached a body weight of up to 13 tonnes.”
Dr. Jordi Serangeli, excavation supervisor at Schoeningen, said: “The elephant tracks we discovered in Schöningen reach an impressive length of 55 centimetres. In some cases, we also found fragments of wood in the tracks that the animals pushed into the ground. , at that time still soft.
He added: “There is also a track of a rhinoceros, Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis or Stephanorhinus hemitoechus, which is the first track of either of these Pleistocene species to have been found in Europe.”
The findings have been published in the academic journal Quaternary Science Reviews.
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