A new study that revisited ancient human footprints in a cave in Romania has pushed back their origins from 15,000 years to 35,000 years. These are now the oldest known and confirmed footprints of homo sapiens.
Discovered in 1965, the Ciur-Izbuc Cave in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania contained about 400 ancient human footprints. Then they were dated to 10-15k years ago, based on their association with cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) footprints and bones, and the belief that cave bears became extinct near the end of the last Ice Age.
Since then, a rush of tourists has resulted in many of the footprints being obliterated with hardly around 50 visible.
The cave was restudied by Dr David Webb, an anthropologist at Kutztown University in 2012.
The team discovered that there were cave bear bones buried just beneath some of the footprints, reports Ancient Origins.
Radiocarbon testing on the bones revealed that the footprints are thousands of years older than the initial estimate. In fact, they place the footprints as belonging to homo sapiens who lived 36,500 years ago.
Analyses also indicate that six or seven individuals, including at least one child, entered the cave after a flood had coated its floor with sandy mud, the researchers report in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
In 2011 scientists claimed to have found human tracks at Tanzania's Engare Sero site dating back to 120,000 years old. But those findings have not been published yet in a peer-reviewed journal.
Earlier this year, low sea tides exposed dozens of ancient footprints on a beach in Norfolk, England, which were dated back to 800,000 years and belong to a human ancestor known as homo antecessor.