You can learn a lot about someone by the way they walk – and apparently that even applies after 10,000 years. In New Mexico, researchers have discovered what they claim is the longest known set of fossilized human footprints, stretching over 1.5 km (0.9 mi) – and they tell an amazing story.
The footprints were preserved in a playa – a dried up, ancient lakebed – in White Sands National Park in New Mexico, US. The area is well known for being dotted with hundreds of thousands of footprints from various Ice Age animals, including mammoths, giant sloths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, bison, camels, and of course humans.
And it’s the tracks of that lattermost animal that caught the researchers’ attention here. Not only are they the longest known trail of fossilized human footprints ever found, but they’re so well preserved that the scientists can infer a surprising amount of detail about the story behind them.
Writing in The Conversation, the researchers explain that the person who left them was most likely a woman, but perhaps an adolescent male. They were carrying a small child, they were in a hurry, and after a few hours they doubled back and made a return journey – without the child. And they weren’t alone out there.