Prehistoric Footprints Found in Crete Defy Our Understanding of Human Evolution

Jeff Glennon | November 30th, 2017

Researchers are fascinated by footprints that appear to be made 5.7 million years ago and debate continues to rage on about whether they are from our human ancestors.

Ancient hominin footprints found on the island of Crete have thrown our understanding of human evolution out the window. Most scientists and historians alike believed that after separating from the chimp ancestors our hominin forefathers developed and stayed in Africa until around 1.5 million years ago. Yet here in Crete prints have been recovered that belong to a creature that would have lived over 5 million years ago. This would suggest that our human ancestors could have been living in Europe at the same time while they developed in Africa. This interesting discovery shines a light on the fact that human evolution is a much more complex and mysterious tale than first thought.

imgur.com

Currently, the oldest footprints that we know of are those found in Laetoli, Tanzania. These footprints called the Laetoli series are dated to be from 3.6 million years ago. This human ancestor is named the Australopithecus and is known to have had a foot function which mirrors our own.

So are these Crete footprints human-like?

Much more research is needed to confirm what type of animal made these prints, however, it appears that the footprints have definitely been made by an animal that walks upright. The animal appears to have walked on the soles of his feet rather than his toes, yet the footprints show a clearly the existence of a big toe like our own. This supports the theory that these footprints have been left by one of our hominin ancestors because an ape’s big toe sticks out sideways. The paper does note that the footprints are much slimmer than the shape of human footprints but argues this could have been due to them being left in the wet mud.

Could it not have been left by a Gorilla?

The big toe argument does actually lead to another debate. The feet of Gorillas also have a big toe placed pretty close to their other toes. It is widely agreed that all the animals that today create the African savannah such as giraffes, antelopes, and rhinos at some point lived in the southern Balkans area of Europe. As landscape and climates changed they ended up migrating from the Balkans into Africa. Could some sort of great ape or gorilla have decided to stay in Crete?

Definitely, more research is needed to confirm what sort of creature has left these footprints, but their discovery is certainly very interesting! The team of researchers behind the study has confirmed they will be making their data accessible to other institutions so one will hope that with further tests and scans it will shine a light on the mystery that is human evolution.

Next Article
  • The Terror That Was Balloonfest '86

    In 1986, United Way of Cleveland in Ohio decided to put together a world record by blowing up and releasing the most balloons ever: over one-and-a-half million balloons were released. Of course, the event was put together for fun and was meant to be completely harmless, it was a fundraising publicity stunt. However, the balloons...

    Read More
  • The Siege Of Candia Lasted 21 Years

    The city of Candia which is today known as Heraklion on Crete played an important part during the Ottoman-Venetian Wars, so much so that it was besieged for over 21 years. The siege of Candia is seen by Historians as one of the longest sieges in history. It started in 1648 and did not end...

    Read More
  • These Places Were All Abandoned Long Ago. Take a Look At Them Now

    Generally, when we think of a cool vacation stop we think of lush green gardens, maid service, infinity pools, you name it. It’s not often that we think about what happens to an area when people, for some reason, stop going and it’s left alone. Our list of abandoned places is sure to make you...

    Read More
  • A Dog’s Nose Print Is Unique Like A Human’s Fingerprint

    Each dog’s nose print is different and unique, and of course, each dog’s nose has amazing sniffing capabilities which truly make dogs one of the world’s favorite pets. What may come as a surprise is that paw prints are not really unique at all, but dogs can be identified by their nose print. [caption id="attachment_7579"...

    Read More
  • The Mysterious Indian Boulder That Continues To Defy Gravity

    Hundreds, even thousands, of tourists flock to see this 250-tonne boulder in India every year. This rock has stood for centuries and appears to be able to defy gravity, not moving at all even though it looks like it may roll at any moment. Brave tourists stand right under it, posing for an epic Instagram...

    Read More
  • The Blitz During World War II Happened By Accident

    The Blitz refers to what is thought to be a strategic campaign of bombing by the Germans against London. It also included various over English cities from 1940 to 1941, the targets were populated areas, factories, and dockyards. During the nightly bombing raids that happened across the United Kingdom, many...

    Read More
  • The Myth Of Sharks Curing Cancer

    One great myth that was making rounds across the scientific world and across all the internet was that sharks had suddenly become the cure for cancer. And they are indeed incredible animals, probably one of the world’s most famous creatures: everyone knows what a shark is. Some people are fascinated and some people shudder in...

    Read More
  • Surgery Saves Man’s Sight With Bionic Eyes

    One blind man has felt the miracle that is medical breakthroughs and modern science. John Jameson from Texas had been blind for over 40 years due to a terrible infection that resulted in the loss of his vision. Jameson eventually gave up on trying to restore his vision, deciding to accept his fate of being...

    Read More