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Footprints in Africa Tell Of Ancient Human Behavior

One of the 408 footprints found in Engere Sero. A: William Harcourt-Smith

The molten mass carrying the soil and mixed with floodwater from a nearby lake formed a delicate layer on the plain below the mountain. Soon after, before the mud that settled on the plain hardened, a tribe passed over this layer of mud, ingesting hundreds of fossilized footprints that have come to date on it.

The most logical explanation made by scientists is this series of hypothetical events, known as engare Sero footprints, making up the largest community of hominin tracks ever found in Africa.

In a new study conducted by human evolutionist biologist Kevin Hatala of Chatham University in Pittsburgh to see what we can find out about people walking on this mud thousands of years ago, researchers examined these prehisto history footprints.

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The footprints were first discovered by a local villager in 2008, before they caught the attention of researchers, and were estimated to be between 5,760 and 19,100 years old, according to previous research.

Earlier speculation said the tracks may have been much older, about 120,000 years ago.

In any case, it wasn’t his age that made Engare Sero special; Laetoli trails, about 100 kilometers away, are 3.7 million years old and the oldest known footprints in the world belonging to early hominins.

The Engare Sero footprint in front of ol Doinyo Lengai volcano. A: Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce

What sets Engare Sero apart is the width of the collection of preserved footprints; It consists of a total of 408 footprints left by a large group of people. Who were these ancient Africans and what were they doing when they crossed this plain a long time ago?

Of course, we will never grasp the full scope of their lives and long-held cultures, but the truth that scientists can reveal; that they will be able to rebuild the details of this lost community from the path they have walked in the past.

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With error and his team say that all of his footprints are left barefoot by humans, because the marks of his toes can be distinguished one by one.

Among the footprints, 17 permits are thought to have been left by people walking at medium speed, possibly representing a group moving together in the southwest direction.

In this group, along with two adult males and a young male, there are thought to be 14 adult females.

Another group of 6 people is thought to be made up of people moving in opposite directions and exhibiting various speeds of movement, two of them fast-walking and one of them running.

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Researchers suggest that due to the speed difference in this group of 6 people moving north, they are unlikely to travel together.

Although researchers could not be fully sure why people passing through this area were adult women in general, they suggest that collaborative fore-for-food activity may be a plausible hypothesis.

Authors; “Modern human food goers are unique among primates because they typically look for food together and share the business section during the sexes. In modern human tribes such as Ache and Hadza, groups of adult women, accompanied by adult males, seek food in cooperation,” she says.

According to the researchers, this may explain the Engare Sero footprints, which do not have any footprints left by children in the area.

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“Apart from breastfed babies (possibly carried on the back), children were typically excluded from such group search activities and left in the camp,” he said.

Article: Hatala, K. G., Harcourt-Smith, W. E., Gordon, A. D., Zimmer, B. W., Richmond, B. G., Pobiner, B. L., … & Liutkus-Pierce, C.M. (2020). Snapshots of human anatomy, locomotion, and behavior from Late Pleistocene footprints at Engare Sero, Tanzania. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-12.

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