Science 2 min read

16,000 Year-Old Footprint Found In Chile



Scientists in Chile claim to have found an ancient footprint.

A couple of days ago, paleontologists in Chile reported that they found a footprint that dates as far back as 15,600 years ago. According to their publication in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS One, this is the earliest sign of man in South America.

A student at the Universidad Austral of Chile first discovered the footprint in 2010, at the Pilauco excavation in the city of Osorno.

Since then, a team of scientists – headed by paleontologist Karen Moreno and Geologist Mario Pino – have been working to rule out the possibility that the print may have belonged to another animal species. They also had to estimate the age of the fossil.

After almost nine years of analysis, the scientists have only just confirmed that the footprint truly belonged to a human.

Speaking to the press, Moreno said:

“Little by little in South America, we’re starting to find sites with evidence of human presence, but this is this oldest in the Americas.”

How did the scientists determine the age of the footprint, you ask?

Image Credit: PLOS ONE (2019). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213572

Pino explained that the scientist applied radiocarbon dating techniques to the organic plant material around the print. With this analysis, there were able to estimate the print’s age to be about 15,600 years.

A more in-depth analysis of the footprint revealed that it belongs to a barefoot man weighing about 155 Pounds (70 Kilograms). According to Pino, the print is a remnant of a relative of Homo sapiens called Hominipes modernus.

The Pilauco excavation in Osorno has proven to be rich in fossils and animal parts.

Researchers had uncovered bones of animals in the past, including primitive elephants and horses on the site. Previously discovered footprints in the area dated to be 1,000 years old also suggest a human presence.

However, this is the first evidence of humans in America that’s older than 12,000 years old, said the researchers.

In a statement to Osorno newspaper El Austral, Pino noted: 

“There are other human footprints in the Americas, but none has been dated as far back.”

Read More: Researchers Discover Ancient Species of Human in the Philippines

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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