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Ghost tracks and Ice Age human footprints: Astounding discoveries in US desert

An archaeological survey of the US Air Force's Utah Testing and Training Range led to the intriguing findings.

July 27, 2022 / 04:06 PM IST
A new survey opens up a door to the past. (Image credit: Hill Air Force Base)

A new survey opens up a door to the past. (Image credit: Hill Air Force Base)

Archaeologists in the United States have found human footprints dating back to the last Ice Age in a desert in Utah.

The astounding discovery was made during a survey of the Air Force's Utah Testing and Training Range.

Cornell University researcher Thomas Urban and Daron Duke of California-based Far Western Anthropological Research Group were driving to an archaeological hearth site when they spotted ghost tracks -- tracks that appear and disappear depending on moisture conditions.

On a closer look, Urban spotted unshod human footprints, according to Cornell University said in an article on July 26.

They returned to the site with equipment to conduct a ground-penetrating radar survey of the tracks. This time, they found more invisible prints.

Duke then dug up a sub-set of the prints, confirming that they were barefoot.

"Altogether 88 footprints were documented, including both adults and children, offering insight into family life in the time of the Pleistocene," Cornell University said.

Duke said the prints seemed to be of people walking in shallow water.

"The sand rapidly infilling their print behind them -- much as you might experience on a beach -- but under the sand was a layer of mud that kept the print intact after infilling," he added.

In a separate statement issued by the US Air Force, Duke said the footprints seemed to be be over 12,000 years old.

The discovery has struck a chord with tribal communities the area. Duke said they felt an immediate connection to the footprints.

“To see them from a distant past, especially so much different than it looks today, can be impactful," he added. They were very happy to see this, and it was personally rewarding for me to be able to show it to them. We will continue to talk to them about it.”

Archaeologists will now dig deeper to confirm the discovery, which is yet to be published in a journal.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jul 27, 2022 04:00 pm