sábado, 2 de agosto de 2014


PEGADAS DE 800 mil a 1 milhão de anos no REINO UNIDO


Earliest human footprints outside Africa discovered in NORFOLK: 800,000-year-old imprints 're-write our understanding of history'
Early humans were related to Homo antecessor known as ‘Pioneer Man’
Species dates from 1.2 million ago and became extinct 600,000 years ago
50 prints were made by children and adults with one being a UK size 8
Scientists estimate heights varied from 0.9m (3ft) to over 1.7m (5ft 7ins)
Prints were found at Happisburgh in May last year but quickly eroded away
Scientists stitched together photographs to create a permanent 3D record
It is hoped new footprints will be revealed as winter storms batter the coast
It is thought that the prints represent a group of at least one or two adult males, at least two adult females or teenagers and three or four children.
In some cases the heel, arch and even toes could be identified, equating to modern shoes of up to UK size 8.
The early humans would have looked very much like us, but with much smaller brains, said Dr Ashton.


Homo antecessor
Scientists from the British Museum believe the 800,000-year-old footprints may be related to our very early ancestor known as Homo antecessor. 

Homo antecessor is one of the earliest known varieties of human discovered in Europe dating back as far as 1.2 million years ago. 

Believed to have weighed around 14 stone, Homo antecessor was said to have been between 5.5 and 6ft tall. Their brain sizes were roughly between  1,000 and 1,150 cm³, which is smaller than the average 1,350 cm³ brains of modern humans.

The species is believed to have been right-handed, making it different from other apes, and may have used a symbolic language, according to archaeologists who found remains in Burgos, Spain in 1994.

The importance of the Happisburgh footprints is highlighted by the rarity of footprints surviving elsewhere. Only those at Laetoli in Tanzania at about 3.5 million years and at Ileret and Koobi Fora in Kenya at about 1.5 million years are more ancient.

How Homo antecessor is related to other Homo species in Europe has been fiercely debated.

Many anthropologists believe there was an evolutionary link between Homo ergaster and Homo heidelbergensis. Archaeologist Richard Klein claims Homo antecessor was a separate species completely, that evolved from Homo ergaster.

Others claim Homo antecessor is actually the same species as Homo heidelbergensis, who lived in Europe between 600,000 and 250,000 years ago in the Pleistocene era.

In 2010 stone tools were found at the same site in Happisburgh, Norfolk, believed to have been used by Homo antecessor.

Very little more is known about the physiology of Homo antecessor, due to a lack of fossilised evidence, yet it is hoped the discovery of the Norfolk footprints will shed more light on the species.

Dr Isabelle De Groote from Liverpool John Moores University studied the prints in more detail.

‘In some cases we could accurately measure the length and width of the footprints and estimate the height of the individuals who made them,’ she said.

‘In most populations today and in the past foot length is approximately 15 per cent of height. We can therefore estimate that the heights varied from about 0.9m (3ft) to over 1.7m (5ft 7in).

‘This height range suggests a mix of adults and children with the largest print possibly being a male.’

The orientation of the footprints suggests that they were heading in a southerly direction.

It is thought the group could have made their way to what is now Norfolk across a strip of land that connected Britain to the rest of Europe a million years ago.

Over the last ten years the sediments at Happisburgh have revealed a series of sites with stone tools and fossil bones, dating back to over 800,000 years. This latest discovery is from the same deposits.

Scientists believe the footprints were made by a group of around five individuals.

Judging from the size of the footprints, the group was made up of at least one or two adult males, at least two adult females or teenagers and three or four children.

Their heights varied from about 0.9m (3ft) to over 1.7m (5ft 7in).

The orientation of the footprints suggests that they were heading in a southerly direction.

They may have made been making way to what is now Norfolk across a strip of land that connected Britain to the rest of Europe a million years ago.

The group would have looked very much like humans today, but with much smaller brains.

There would have been muddy freshwater pools on the floodplain with salt marsh and coast nearby.

Deer, bison, mammoth, hippo and rhino grazed the river valley, surrounded by more dense coniferous forest.

The estuary provided a rich array of resources for the early humans with edible plant tubers, seaweed and shellfish nearby, while the grazing herds would have provided meat through hunting or scavenging.

So who were these humans? Fossil remains of our forebears are still proving elusive.

However, as Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum explains: ‘The humans who made the Happisburgh footprints may well have been related to the people of similar antiquity from Atapuerca in Spain, assigned to the species Homo antecessor.

‘These people were of a similar height to ourselves and were fully bipedal. They seem to have become extinct in Europe by 600,000 years ago and were perhaps replaced by the species Homo heidelbergensis.


Natural History Museum archaeologist Chris Stringer said that 800,000 or 900,000 years ago Britain was "the edge of the inhabited world."

"This makes us rethink our feelings about the capacity of these early people, that they were coping with conditions somewhat colder than the present day," he said.

"Maybe they had cultural adaptations to the cold we hadn't even thought were possible 900,000 years ago. Did they wear clothing? Did they make shelters, windbreaks and so on? Could they have they have the use of fire that far back?" he asked.

Scientists dated the footprints by studying their geological position and from nearby fossils of long-extinct animals including mammoth, ancient horse and early vole.

John McNabb, director of the Center for the Archaeology of Human Origins at the University of Southampton — who was not part of the research team — said the use of several lines of evidence meant "the dating is pretty sound."

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