Humans Crawled Through a Cave 14,000 Years Ago. We Can Still See Their Perfectly Preserved Footprints.
By Editor - Wed May 15, 9:09 am
About 14,000 years ago, a party of five barefoot people — two adults, one preteen and two children — walked and even crawled through a dark passageway in a cave, according to a new study that analyzed the hand- and footprints these individuals left behind.To light their way, these late Stone Age people likely burned bundles of pine (Pinus) sticks, which archaeologists also found in the cave, known as Grotta della Bàsura, in northern Italy.The cave's ceiling was so low, that at one part, the ancient explorers were forced to crawl, leaving behind “the first evidence ever of human footprints left during crawling locomotion,” that is, in a “crouching walk” position, said study first author Marco Romano, a postdoctoral researcher at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. [In Photos: Stone Age Human Footprints Discovered]Researchers have known about the ancient human presence in Grotta della Bàsura since the 1950s. But the new analysis is the first high-tech look at these particular trackways, in which the researchers used laser scans, sediment analysis, geochemistry, archaeobotany and 3D modeling to study the prints.There were so many prints — 180 in all — that the researchers were able to piece together what happened that day during the upper Paleolithic (also known as the late Stone Age). According to the different sizes of footprints, it appears there were five people: a 3-year-old, 6-year-old, a pre-adolescent (8- to 11-year-old) and two adults, the researchers found.Researchers found a total of 180 human footprints and traces that were made about 14,000 years ago in a cave in northern Italy. Here are three of the footprints, made on different surfaces within the cave