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
  • Sally Ride First American Women In Space

    On June 18, 1983, NASA Astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman to enter space. She launched with her four crewmates on the Shuttle Challenger, on mission STS-7. The ride had been selected with five other women to be part of NASA’s space program back in 1978. With the advances of the space shuttles...

    Read More
  • Reindeer In A WW2 Submarine

    One of the more unusual moments of World War II was when a British submarine transported around a reindeer it had been given by the Russians as a gift. In 1941, the crew of the HMS Trident was given a reindeer by the USSR navy. The reindeer then spent the next 6 weeks living with...

    Read More
  • Archduke Franz Ferdinand Killed Over 300,000 Animals While Hunting

    Over one hundred years ago, the heir to the Astro Hungarian throne was a crazy guy called Franz. Well Archduke Franz Ferdinand to be exact, his assassination led to the turn of events that caused the start of World War I. Pulling in the Russian Empire, Germany, France, Italy, China, and the U.S. into one...

    Read More
  • The Legend Of Snake Rock In Naka Cave

    Naka Cave is found in Phu Langka National Park in Thailand, and in Thai it means snake. There is a real reason for this, the cave looks like a giant snake. The texture of the stones appears to resemble the scaled skin of a snake. Over the years there have been hundreds of articles publishing...

    Read More
  • Wife Carrying Is An Extreme Sport In Finland

    Over fifty men happily sling their wives or partners over their shoulders and run off into the race. An hour-long gruel through the Finnish town of Sonkajarvi and thousands of fans will be cheering them on. This is the extreme sport of wife-carrying in Finland. The World Wife Carrying Championships is now well into its...

    Read More
  • Aeschylus The Ancient Writer Killed By A Falling Tortoise

    Aeschylus is often regarded as the creator of the tragic genre. He is one of the early Greek writers whose plays have survived into the modern era, the other two being Sophocles and Euripides. Arguably, he is also the founder of serious Greek drama. Mostly we find that he added many more characters into his...

    Read More
  • For Europeans Hershey’s Chocolate Tastes Like Vomit

    If you ask any American they may tell you that Hershey’s is the chocolate to buy. But, if you ever offer one to a European then you may find they grimace at the thought. That is because, for anyone used to eating European chocolates, Hershey’s will taste like vomit. It is kind of like a...

    Read More