Geskiedenis Podcasts

7 000 jaar oue bos en voetspore ontbloot in die Atlantis van Brittanje

7 000 jaar oue bos en voetspore ontbloot in die Atlantis van Brittanje

Antieke voetspore sowel as prehistoriese boomstompe en stompe het sigbaar geword langs 'n 200 meter lange kuslyn by Low Hauxley naby Amble, Northumberland, in wat vermoedelik Doggerland is, die Atlantis van Brittanje.

The Daily Mail berig dat die woud in die laat Mesolitiese tydperk bestaan ​​het. Dit het ongeveer 5.300 vC begin vorm, en dit is drie eeue later deur die oseaan bedek. Die studies het bewys dat die seevlak destyds, toe die ou bos bestaan ​​het, baie laer was. Dit was 'n tydperk toe Brittanje onlangs geskei het van die land van die huidige Denemarke. Die bos bestaan ​​meestal uit hasel-, els- en eikebome. Navorsers glo dat die woud deel was van Doggerland, 'n ou stuk land wat die Verenigde Koninkryk en Europa verbind het.

Doggerland: Steentydperk Atlantis van Brittanje

Doggerland, wat in die Noordsee geleë is, het een keer ongeveer 258998 vierkante kilometer gemeet. Die einde van die ystydperk het egter 'n groot styging in die seevlak en 'n toename in storms en oorstromings in die streek gehad, wat Doggerland geleidelik laat krimp het.

Doggerland, soms die Stone Age Atlantis van Brittanje of die prehistoriese tuin van Eden genoem, is 'n gebied wat argeoloë gewag het om te herontdek. Laastens het moderne tegnologie 'n vlak bereik waarin hul drome 'n werklikheid kan word. Daar word vermoed dat Doggerland die eerste keer omstreeks 10 000 vC bewoon is, en vernuwende tegnologie sal na verwagting 'n nuwe studie help om te kyk hoe die lewe was vir die prehistoriese mense wat in die gebied woon voordat die katastrofiese oorstromings die gebied iewers tussen 8000 - 6000 vC bedek het.

Die gebied, wat 'n verskeidenheid diere sou huisves, sowel as die jagterversamelaars wat hulle bekruip het, het oorstroom as gevolg van yssmelting, met 'n paar hoogliggende gebiede soos 'Dogger Island' (regs op die foto, rooi gemerk) dien as leidrade vir die streke se ou verlede. ( publieke domein )

Gesonke land onthul sy geheime

Die jongste navorsing is gedoen deur 'n groep argeoloë en vrywilligers onder leiding van 'n span van Archaeological Research Services Ltd, wat voorheen 'n paar ander projekte met betrekking tot die Northumberland uitgevoer het. Die werk was moontlik weens die laer watervlak. Die groot opgrawings het 'n totaal van 700 mense behels en 'n deel van 'n ystertydperk ontdek wat omstreeks 300 vC naby die Druidgebaai dateer.

Dokter Clive Waddington, van Archaeology Research Services, het gesê:

'' In 5 000 v.C. het die seevlak vinnig gestyg en dit het die land verdrink. Die sandduine word verder in die land teruggeblaas en die bos begrawe, en toe trek die see effens terug. Die seevlak styg nou weer, sny die sandduine af en ontdek die bos. ”

Clive Waddington, projekdirekteur van Archaeological Research Services Ltd by die prehistoriese argeologiese opgrawing in Low Hauxley naby Amble, Northumberland (The Journal)

Ou voetspore

Waddington hou vol dat sy span ook die bewyse ontdek het van mense wat naby woon. Hulle het voetspore van volwassenes en kinders gevind. As gevolg van die resultate van die ontleding van die voetspore, word geglo dat hulle leerskoene gedra het. Voetspore van wilde diere, bruinbere en rooibokke is ook gevind.

Versteende woude

Die oorblyfsels van die bos van Doggerland behoort nie tot die oudste bekende bos nie. Die oudste versteende woud is ontdek deur 'n span van die Binghamton -universiteit in die stad Gilboa in die staat New York. Die Gilboa -gebied staan ​​sedert die laat 19de jaar bekend as 'n boomfossielplek ste eeu. Die eerste navorsers het egter in die 1920's daar aangekom. Die mees onlangse navorsing het in 2004 begin toe Linda VanAller Hernick, bestuurder van die paleontologieversameling, en Frank Mannolini, 'n tegnikus vir die versameling van paleontologie, meer ongeskonde monsters ontdek het. Volgens die artikel wat in 2012 deur William Stein, medeprofessor in biologiese wetenskappe in Binghamton, gepubliseer is, is die fossiele wat in hierdie gebied ontdek is tussen 370 en 380 miljoen jaar oud.

Kyk na die 5 000 jaar oue bos wat deur storms opgegrawe is:

Voorbeeld: die oorblyfsels van 'n ou woud in wat vermoedelik vroeër deel was van Doggerland. Krediet: North News and Pictures.

Deur Natalia Klimczak


Wetenskaplikes vind 800 000 jaar oue voetspore in die Verenigde Koninkryk

Britse wetenskaplikes het menslike voetspore in Engeland ontdek wat minstens 800 000 jaar oud is - die oudste wat buite Afrika gevind is en die vroegste bewyse van menslike lewe in Noord -Europa.

'N Span van die British Museum, die Natural History Museum en die Universiteit van Londen het afdrukke van tot vyf individue in antieke riviermonding by Happisburgh aan die oostelike kus van die land ontbloot.

Die Britse museum -argeoloog Nick Ashton het gesê dat die vonds - wat Vrydag aangekondig en in die tydskrif PLOS ONE gepubliseer is - ''n tasbare skakel is na ons vroegste menslike familielede'.

Die afdrukke word millennia lank in slik en sand bewaar voordat dit verlede jaar deur die gety blootgestel is, en gee 'n lewendige blik op sommige van ons oudste voorouers. Hulle is uit 'n groep, waaronder minstens twee kinders en een volwasse man. Dit kan 'n gesin wees wat op die oewers van 'n rivier soek, wat wetenskaplikes dink die ou Teems kan wees, langs grasvelde waar bison, mammoet, seekoeie en renosters rondloop.

Die navorsers het gesê dat die mense wat die voetspore getrap het, moontlik verband gehou het met die Homo -voorganger, of 'die pionierman', waarvan die versteende oorskot in Spanje gevind is. Die spesie het ongeveer 800 000 jaar gelede doodgegaan.

Ashton het gesê die voetspore is tussen 800 000 - "as 'n konserwatiewe skatting" - en 1 miljoen jaar oud, minstens 100 000 jaar ouer as die vorige vroegste bewyse van menslike bewoning in Brittanje. Dit is belangrik, want 700 000 jaar gelede het Brittanje 'n warm klimaat in die Middellandse See-styl gehad. Die vroeëre tydperk was baie kouer, soortgelyk aan die huidige Skandinawië.

Die argeoloog Chris Stringer van die Natural History Museum, wat deel is van die projek, het gesê dat 800 000 of 900 000 jaar gelede Brittanje 'die rand van die bewoonde wêreld' was.

'Dit laat ons heroorweeg na ons gevoelens oor die vermoë van hierdie vroeë mense, dat hulle die toestande ietwat kouer as die huidige kon hanteer,' het hy gesê.


VERWANTE ARTIKELS

Die navorsing oor die ringkar is begin nadat dit verskyn het as 'n gewasmerk in 'n lugfoto van die graafwerf wat in 2013 geneem is tydens 'n soektog na die oorblyfsels van 'n Tweede Wêreldoorlog geweerplasing en 'n Romeinse tempel op die landgoed#160Beaulieu.

Daaropvolgende geofisiese opnames het aan die lig gebring dat daar binne die ring slote was wat binne die ringe leidrade versteur het wat daarop dui dat óf die primêre begrafnisaktiwiteit teenwoordig is, óf later ontwrigting deur moderne antiquariërs.

Ringslote word dikwels aangetref as die enigste oorblyfsels van 'n voormalige kruishoop, hoewel die span in hierdie geval glo dat die slootfunksie moontlik alleen was, met 'n interne of eksterne bank, nader aan 'n & #8216mini-henge ’.  

Argeologiese bewyse uit die Mesolitiese tydperk is skaars, maar af en toe vind ons vuursteenhulpmiddels en bewyse vir hierdie tydelike nedersettingsplekke, het Jon Milward van die Bournemouth University Archaeological Research Consultancy gesê. Ons weet van 'n paar Mesolitiese terreine naby die Beaulieu -rivier, en dit lyk asof daar nog 'n plek op hierdie webwerf was, het hy aan die Advertiser & amp Times gesê

Die ondersoek na die ringsloot skyn lig op ons begrip van antieke monumentbou en begrafnispraktyke in die streek, het die span gesê. Op die foto, die opgrawing van die ure

Monumente met ingange en oënskynlike oop interieurs soos hierdie was moontlik vergaderruimtes wat gebruik is om rituele en seremonies uit te voer wat vir die plaaslike gemeenskap belangrik was, het mnr. Milward bygevoeg. Op die foto neem 'n navorser twee van die verassingsurns af

Daar is bewyse van gereelde aanpassings en 'n skynbare kontinuïteit van gebruik oor 'n lang tyd, wat impliseer dat hierdie monument miskien meer as 'n begraafplaas was en vir baie geslagte 'n belangrike rol in die gemeenskap gespeel het. ’ Op die foto, die verassingsurns is ontleed, gedateer en CT -geskandeer aan die Bournemouth Universiteit

Hierdie projek is 'n goeie voorbeeld van hoe argeologiese navorsing van hoë gehalte onderneem kan word as deel van 'n gemeenskapsprojek, met vrywilligers wat argeologiese tegnieke leer, ’ het gesê   National Park Authority   argeoloog Hilde van der Heul.

Dit het ten doel gehad om 'n beter begrip te gee van die prehistoriese verlede van die New Forest, met die direkte betrokkenheid van die plaaslike gemeenskap. ’

Dit was 'n opwindende geleentheid vir vrywilligers met 'n belangstelling in argeologie en erfenis om praktiese ervaring in die veld op te doen, veral met seldsame en belangrike bevindings soos hierdie. ’  

Die opgrawings op die  Beaulieu -landgoed is ondersteun deur die   National Lottery Heritage Fund ’s Our Past, Our Future, Landscape Partnership Scheme.  

Die finale verslag oor die opgrawings van Bournemouth Argeology kan op die New Forest Knowledge -webwerf gelees word.  

Hierdie projek is 'n uitstekende voorbeeld van hoe argeologiese navorsing van hoë gehalte onderneem kan word as deel van 'n gemeenskapsprojek, met vrywilligers wat argeologiese tegnieke leer, ’ het die argeoloog Hilde van der Heul van die National Park Authority gesê. Op die foto, die opgrawings

Dit was 'n opwindende geleentheid vir vrywilligers met 'n belangstelling in argeologie en erfenis om praktiese ervaring in die veld op te doen, veral met seldsame en belangrike bevindinge soos hierdie, het mevrou van der Heul bygevoeg. Op die foto, opgrawings by die  Beaulieu Estate -terrein

Die opgrawings op die Beaulieu -landgoed (op die foto) is ondersteun deur die National Lottery Heritage Fund ’s Our Past, Our Future, Landscape Partnership Scheme

Die navorsing oor die ringkar is van stapel gestuur nadat dit verskyn het as 'n gewasmerk in 'n lugfoto van die grawe (links) wat in 2013 geneem is tydens 'n soektog na die oorblyfsels van 'n Tweede Wêreldoorlog geweerplasing en 'n Romeinse tempel op die Beaulieu -landgoed. Daaropvolgende geofisiese opnames (regs) het aan die lig gebring dat daar binne -in die ring slote was en dat daar óf die teenwoordigheid van primêre begrafnisaktiwiteite was, óf later ontwrigting deur moderne antiquariërs.

Argeoloë en vrywilligers van die National Park Authority en die Universiteit van Bournemouth het die opgrawings op die Beaulieu -landgoed in Hampshire gedoen

Brittanje het ongeveer 7 000 jaar gelede begin trek van ‘jagter-versamelaar ’ na boerdery en nedersettings as deel van die ‘Neolithic Revolution ’

Die neolitiese rewolusie was die eerste verifieerbare revolusie in die landbou ter wêreld.

Dit het tussen ongeveer 5000 vC en 4500 vC in Brittanje begin, maar het versprei oor Europa vanaf sy oorsprong in Sirië en Irak tussen ongeveer 11000 vC en 9000 vC.

In die tydperk was daar 'n wydverspreide oorgang van baie uiteenlopende menslike kulture van nomadiese jag- en versamelingspraktyke na boerdery en die bou van klein nedersettings.

Stonehenge, die beroemdste prehistoriese struktuur in Europa, moontlik die hele wêreld, is deur die Neolitiese mense gebou en later in die vroeë Bronstydperk bygevoeg

Die revolusie was verantwoordelik vir die omskakeling van klein groepies reisigers in gevestigde gemeenskappe wat dorpe en dorpe gebou het.

Sommige kulture het besproeiing gebruik en bosopruimings gemaak om hul boerderytegnieke te verbeter.

Ander het voedsel geberg vir tye van honger, en boerdery het uiteindelik verskillende rolle en arbeidsverdelings in samelewings sowel as in handelsekonomieë geskep.

In die Verenigde Koninkryk is die tydperk veroorsaak deur 'n groot migrasie of volksbeweging van regoor die kanaal.

Die Neolitiese Revolusie het mense in Brittanje van groepe nomadiese jagter-versamelaars na gevestigde gemeenskappe laat beweeg. Sommige van die vroegste monumente in Brittanje is neolitiese strukture, waaronder Silbury Hill in Wiltshire (op die foto)

Vandag strek prehistoriese monumente in die Verenigde Koninkryk van die tyd van die Neolitiese boere tot die inval van die Romeine in 43 nC.

Baie van hulle word deur die Engelse erfenis versorg en wissel van staande klippe tot massiewe klipsirkels en van grafheuwels tot heuwels.

Stonehenge, die bekendste prehistoriese struktuur in Europa, moontlik die hele wêreld, is deur die Neolitiese mense gebou en is later tydens die Bronstydperk voltooi.

Neolitiese strukture is tipies gebruik vir seremonies, godsdienstige feeste en as sentrums vir handel en sosiale byeenkomste.


Koloniseer Brittanje – Een miljoen jaar van ons menslike verhaal

Wanneer het die eerste mense aangekom in die huidige Brittanje? Voortgesette navorsing oor 'n buitengewone konsentrasie paleolitiese terreine aan die kus van Norfolk en Suffolk het bewyse gevind van menslike aktiwiteite wat ongeveer 900 000 jaar oud is - byna twee keer so lank as wat voorheen gedink is. Hierdie bevindings, wat nou die onderwerp van 'n groot uitstalling in die Natural History Museum in Londen is, bring die opeenvolgende golwe van prehistoriese pioniers wat hierdie oewers bevolk het in 'n ongekende fokus, soos Chris Stringer vertel Karolyn Shindler.

Dit is bekend dat Brittanje nie altyd 'n eiland was nie. Tot ongeveer 8 500 jaar gelede vorm dit deel van 'n breë skiereiland wat noordwes-Europa strek, wat maklik bereikbaar is deur migrerende mense en diere.

Dit was egter nie 'n eenvoudige plek om te vestig nie. Namate die plaaslike klimaat tussen polêre woestynomstandighede en temperature soos die moderne Middellandse See wissel, het mense tydelike vastrapplek gekry voordat hulle deur opeenvolgende ystydperke meegesleur is. Hierdie proses is ten minste agt of nege keer herhaal, maar uiteindelik, toe die laaste ysdek ongeveer 12 500 jaar gelede teruggesak het, het 'n nuwe golf migrante Brittanje herkoloniseer, en hierdie keer kon hulle vashou.

In vergelyking met Afrika, Australië en ons kontinentale bure kom die moderne inwoners van Brittanje dus af van relatiewe nuwelinge - maar wat kan gesê word van die vroegste hoofstukke van ons menslike verhaal? Tussen 1993 en 1996 het opgrawings by 'n steengroef in Boxgrove, Sussex, 'n tibia en twee tande ontdek wat op ongeveer 500 000 jaar gelede gedateer is en waarskynlik geïdentifiseer is Homo heidelbergensis (CA 153), 'n spesie wat reeds bekend is vanaf plekke in Europa en verder. Twee dekades later bly dit die vroegste bekende hominienfossiele wat in Brittanje gevind is.

Maar onlangse bevindinge van die Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) -projek - 'n interdissiplinêre inisiatief onder leiding van professor Chris Stringer van die Natural History Museum, met meer as 50 kollegas van Britse, Europese en Noord -Amerikaanse instellings - dui daarop dat ons die voetspore kan volg van die eerste setlaars van Brittanje nog verder terug. Die afgelope 13 jaar het AHOB's se ondersoeke die Britse paleolitiese effektief herskryf en die vroegste bekende spore van menslike aktiwiteite ontdek, nie net aan hierdie oewers nie, maar ook in die noordweste van Europa as geheel.

Lewe op die rand
In die hart van hierdie projek is die dorpie Happisburgh (uitgespreek 'Hays-bruh ’), aan die noordelike kus van Norfolk. Onlangs in die nuus weens die erosie wat die buitenste huise bedreig het, het Happisburgh in 2000 die nuus gekry toe 'n plaaslike man met eb met 'n hond op die strand loop, 'n merkwaardige ontdekking maak: 'n pragtige hand van 'n swart vuursteen (CA 201). Anders as vorige vondste van sulke artefakte, lê hierdie voorbeeld egter nie los op die oppervlak nie. Dit was eerder half begrawe in 'n turfdeposito wat later ongeveer 500 000 jaar gelede gedateer is, en gee aanloklike aanduidings dat Happisburgh bewyse bevat van vroeë mense wat minstens so oud was as Boxgrove ’s H. heidelbergensis.

Sedertdien is altesaam ses paleolitiese terreine in die Happisburgh -omgewing geïdentifiseer, wat vuursteenwerktuie en geslagte dierebene produseer wat hierdie bewyse nog verder terugdruk. Tientalle sny- en deurboorwerktuie is gevind in dik lae sediment, bekend as die Cromer Forest Bed. Daar word vermoed dat sommige van hierdie afsettings óf 840 000 óf 950 000 jaar gelede neergelê is, wat die artefakte daarvan herwin het, die vroegste wat tans in Brittanje, en inderdaad Noord -Europa, bekend is.

Hierdie lae sand, gruis en modder weerspieël die feit dat Happisburgh 900 000 jaar gelede 15 myl verder in die binneland gelê het as sy huidige posisie, langs 'n riviermonding wat uit twee riviere bestaan. Dit was die Teems - wat eens deur Norfolk en Suffolk gevloei het, meer as 100 myl noord van sy huidige loopbaan - en die nou uitgestorwe Bytham, wat oor die Middellande en deur East Anglia geloop het, voordat dit in die huidige Noordzee beland het. Destyds was dit meer 'n baai wat aan die ander kant by die moderne Holland aangesluit het. AHOB se ondersoeke na die sedimente wat deur hierdie ou waterweë neergelê is, het 'n magdom omgewingsbewyse opgelewer, wat die span in staat gestel het om 'n gedetailleerde prentjie te maak van die plaaslike landskap tydens die Paleolitiese, sowel as die diere, plante en mense wat dit bewoon het .

Ontbrekende skakels
Paleolitiese vuursteenwerktuie van verskillende vorms, ouderdomme en vlakke van gesofistikeerdheid is in groot dele van Brittanje gevind, maar die fisiese oorblyfsels van die mense wat dit gemaak het, is min.

Fragmentêre menslike fossiele uit hierdie tydperk is teruggevind van slegs 'n handjievol plekke, waaronder Swanscombe in Kent, Pontnewydd in Noord -Wallis, Kent's Cavern in Devon en Gough's Cave in Somerset. Soos hierbo bespreek, kom die vroegste wat nog gevind is, van Boxgrove in Sussex, wat eens gedink het die vroegste perk van menslike uitstappies na Noord -Europa verteenwoordig. Maar vir al sy ryk prehistoriese fauna het Norfolk tot aan die einde van die vorige eeu nog geen enkele spoor van vroeë menslike oorskot opgelewer nie, en ook nie baie ou klipgereedskap nie.

Dit het verander in 1999, toe AHOB-navorser en Natural History Museum / UCL paleontoloog Simon Parfitt mensgemaakte snypunte op paleolitiese beendere uit Happisburgh geïdentifiseer het: die eerste teken dat vroeë mense daar was (CA 201). Die jaar daarna het professor Chris Stringer 'n konsortium van kollegas saamgestel om aansoek te doen vir 'n Leverhulme Trust -navorsingsbeurs, en die span is vir vyf jaar £ 1,2 miljoen toegeken, met twee daaropvolgende toekennings in 2006 en 2009. Hierdie geld befonds opgrawings op nuwe terreine , onthul dat ou mense beter in staat was om aan te pas by klimaatsverandering as wat iemand voorheen vermoed het, terwyl historiese versamelings weer ondersoek is met behulp van gesofistikeerde analitiese tegnieke soos skandering van mikroskopie en isotoopanalise, om 'n magdom voorheen onbekende inligting te verskaf.

Wat die AHOB -uitgrawingsdoelwitte betref, was een van die belangrikste doelwitte om vas te stel of daar 'n perseel is met ouer bewyse van menslike aktiwiteite as Boxgrove - en in 2004 het die span een, 20 myl suid van Happisburgh by Pakefield in Suffolk, geïdentifiseer. . Daar was lank gerugte dat klipgereedskap by Pakefield gevind is, maar, soos Chris gesê het, 'mense stuur heeltyd vir my foto's van wat hulle sê klipgereedskap is, en die meeste daarvan is nie altyd'#8217 '. Nadat 'n enkele bewerkte vuursteen gevind is, op die laaste dag van 'n aanvanklike opgrawing (soos gewoonlik!), Het dit geblyk dat die terrein verdere ondersoek verg.

Sedertdien is ongeveer 32 bewerkte vuurstene uit Pakefield teruggevind, waaronder 'n eenvoudige gevlekte kern, 'n ru-geretoucheerde vlok en afval van gereedskap. Die belangrikste is dat hierdie artefakte afkomstig was van duidelik gestratifiseerde afsettings; daar word vermoed dat die Pakefield -vuurstene ongeveer 700 000 jaar gelede dateer.

Omgekeerde polariteit
Die AHOB -span het skaars asem gekry ná die sukses van hul werk in Pakefield toe daar 'n nog groter ontdekking in Happisburgh was. Massiewe erosie langs die noordelike kus van Norfolk, tesame met die ineenstorting van die plaaslike seewering, het 'n argeologiese silwer rand: dit het 'n verstommende reeks materiaal blootgelê wat aan die lig gebring het dat Happisburgh iets van 'n brandpunt was vir vroeë mense.

Van die ses terreine wat tot dusver geïdentifiseer is, het Site 3 - wat in 2005 ontdek is - die vroegste spore van menslike aktiwiteite opgelewer, met ongeveer 80 vuurwerktuie wat in lae sedimente ontdek is, wat tot 950 000 jaar terugdateer. 'N Noukeurige ontleding van magnetiese handtekeninge in die afsettings dui daarop dat hulle dateer uit 'n tydperk waarin die polariteit van die aarde se magnetiese veld omgekeer is (wat beteken dat die magnetiese pool in die suide was, sodat 'n kompasnaald op hierdie tydstip suidwaarts sou wys). Dit het laas 780 000 jaar gelede verander, wat daarop dui dat die Site 3 -gereedskap ten minste so oud is, maar plant- en stuifmeelanalise, sowel as die ondersoek van die oorblyfsels van diersoorte wat tans leef, dui daarop dat hulle nog ouer kan wees. Hulle wys op 'n klimaat wat blykbaar warm was, maar afkoel na 'n ystydperk. As 'n geheel, dui hierdie faktore op 'n datum van ongeveer 950,000-840,000 jaar gelede.

Hierdie bevindings weerspreek die vorige aannames oor menslike aktiwiteite gedurende hierdie tydperk heeltemal. Ongeveer 900 000 jaar gelede sou Site 3 in 'n grasagtige, oop vallei gelê het, omring deur dennebos. Toestande sou vandag dieselfde gewees het as in die suide van Skandinawië. Tot nou toe is dit algemeen aanvaar dat vroeë mense sulke koue toestande nie kan verdra nie en dat 'n Mediterreense klimaat nodig is om te floreer. In plaas daarvan het ons nou bewyse dat hulle op een of ander manier geleer het om by die koue aan te pas.

In die komende Natural History Museum -uitstalling word al die belangrikste fossielmonsters uit Brittanje vir die eerste keer byeengebring, insluitend die Kent ’s Cavern maxilla, Boxgrove ’s H. heidelbergensis tibia, Neanderdal -tande van Pontnewydd, en skedelfragmente van óf 'n primitiewe Neanderthaler óf 'n H. heidelbergensis van Swanscombe. Hulle sal saam met klipgereedskap, geslagde beendere en voorwerpe, waaronder die vroegste houtartikel uit Brittanje, die 400 000 jaar oue Clacton-spies, te sien wees.

Verdere inligting
Brittanje: 'n Miljoen jaar van die menslike verhaal word op 13 Februarie in die Natural History Museum in Londen geopen en duur tot 28 September. Vir meer inligting, besoek www.nhm.ac.uk/britainmillionyears

Dit is 'n uittreksel, maar u kan die volledige funksie in CA 288 – nou te koop!


Die vroegste voetspore buite Afrika wat in Norfolk ontdek is

Die voetspore is meer as 800 000 jaar oud en is aan die oewer van Happisburgh gevind.

Dit is 'n direkte bewys van die vroegste bekende mense in Noord -Europa.

Besonderhede van die buitengewone merke is in die wetenskapstydskrif Plos One gepubliseer.

Die voetspore is beskryf as 'n kwotasie van die belangrikste ontdekkings, indien nie die belangrikste ontdekking wat aan die oewers van Brittanje gemaak is nie, deur dr Nick Ashton van die British Museum.

"Dit sal ons begrip van die vroeë menslike besetting van Brittanje en inderdaad van Europa herskryf," het hy aan BBC News gesê.

Die merke is eers in Mei verlede jaar tydens 'n laagwater geïdentifiseer. Ruwe seë het die sandstrand geërodeer om 'n reeks langwerpige holtes te onthul.

Ek stap saam met dr Ashton langs die oewer waar die ontdekking gemaak is. Hy onthou hoe hy en 'n kollega oor die holtes gestruikel het: "Ek het destyds gewonder of dit werklik die geval kan wees? As dit die geval was, kan dit die vroegste voetspore buite Afrika wees, en dit sou absoluut ongelooflik wees. & Quot

Sulke ontdekkings is baie skaars. Die Happisburgh -voetspore is die enigste van hierdie ouderdom in Europa en daar is slegs drie ander stelle wat ouer is, wat almal in Afrika is.

"Aanvanklik was ons nie seker wat ons sien nie," het dr Ashton vir my gesê, "maar dit was gou duidelik dat die holtes soos menslike voetspore lyk."

Die holtes is weggespoel nie lank nadat dit geïdentifiseer is nie. Die span kon egter die voetspore vang op video wat later hierdie maand tydens 'n uitstalling in die Natural History Museum in Londen gewys sal word.

Die video toon die navorsers op hul hande en knieë in koue, reën, besig met 'n wedloop teen tyd om die holtes op te teken. Dr Ashton onthou hoe hulle reënwater uit die voetspore gehaal het sodat hulle afgeneem kon word. "Maar die reën het die holtes so vinnig gevul as wat ons dit kon leegmaak," het hy vir my gesê.

Die span het die volgende twee weke 'n 3D -skandering van die voetspore geneem. 'N Gedetailleerde ontleding van hierdie beelde deur dr Isabelle De Groote van die John Moores -universiteit in Liverpool, bevestig dat die holtes inderdaad menslike voetspore was, moontlik van vyf mense, een volwasse man en 'n paar kinders.

Dr De Groote het gesê dat sy die hak, boog en selfs tone in sommige van die afdrukke kan uitmaak, waarvan die grootste 'n Britse skoenmaat 8 (Europese maat 42 Amerikaanse maat 9) sou gevul het.

"Toe ek van die voetspore vertel word, was ek absoluut verstom," het dr. De Groote aan BBC News gesê.

Dit lyk asof dit deur 'n volwasse man gemaak is wat ongeveer 175 cm lank was en die kortste ongeveer 3ft. Die ander groter voetspore kan van jong volwasse mans kom of deur wyfies agtergelaat word. Die blik op die verlede wat ons sien, is dat ons 'n gesinsgroep het wat oor die landskap beweeg. & Quot

Dit is onduidelik wie hierdie mense was. Een voorstel is dat dit 'n spesie genoem is Homo voorganger, waarvan bekend was dat dit in Suid -Europa gewoon het. Daar word vermoed dat hierdie mense hul weg na die huidige Norfolk kon bereik het oor 'n stuk grond wat die Verenigde Koninkryk 'n miljoen jaar gelede met die res van Europa verbind het. Hulle sou ongeveer 800 000 jaar gelede verdwyn het weens 'n baie kouer klimaat, kort nadat die voetspore gemaak is.

Dit was eers 500 000 jaar gelede dat 'n spesie genoem word Homo heidelbergensis het in die VK gewoon. Daar word vermoed dat hierdie mense ongeveer 400 000 jaar gelede ontwikkel het tot vroeë Neanderthalers. Die Neanderthalers het daarna met tussenposes in Brittanje gewoon tot ongeveer 40 000 jaar gelede - 'n tyd wat saamgeval het met die koms van ons spesie, Homo sapiens.

Daar is geen fossiele van voorganger in Happisburgh, maar die omstandigheidsbewyse van hul teenwoordigheid word met die dag sterker.

In 2010 het dieselfde navorsingspan die klipgereedskap ontdek wat deur sulke mense gebruik word. En die ontdekking van die voetspore bevestig nou maar net dat mense byna 'n miljoen jaar gelede in Brittanje was, volgens prof Chris Stringer van die Natural History Museum, wat ook betrokke is by die navorsing in Happisburgh.

"Hierdie ontdekking gee ons nog meer konkrete bewyse dat daar mense was," het hy aan BBC News gesê. Ons kan nou begin kyk na 'n groep mense en hul daaglikse aktiwiteite. En as ons aanhou soek, vind ons nog meer bewyse daarvan, hopelik selfs menslike fossiele. Dit sou my droom wees & quot.


Wetenskaplikes vind 800 000 jaar oue voetspore in die Verenigde Koninkryk (opdatering)

Ongedateerde uitdeelfoto uitgereik deur die British Museum Vrydag 7 Februarie 2014 van sommige van die menslike voetspore, vermoedelik meer as 800 000 jaar oud, gevind in slik op die strand by Happisburgh aan die Norfolk -kus van Engeland, met 'n kamera lensdop langs hulle gelê om die skaal aan te dui. (AP Foto/British Museum)

Hulle was 'n Britse gesin op 'n daguitdag - byna 'n miljoen jaar gelede.

Argeoloë het Vrydag aangekondig dat hulle menslike voetspore ontdek het wat tussen 800 000 en 1 miljoen jaar oud is - die oudste wat buite Afrika gevind is en die vroegste bewyse van menslike lewe in Noord -Europa.

'N Span van die British Museum, die Natural History Museum in Londen en die Queen Mary -kollege aan die Universiteit van Londen het afdrukke van tot vyf individue in antieke riviermonding by Happisburgh aan die oostelike kus van die land ontbloot.

Die Britse museum -argeoloog Nick Ashton het gesê dat die ontdekking in detail in die joernaal weergegee is PLOS EEN—Was ''n tasbare skakel na ons vroegste menslike familielede'.

Die afdrukke word honderde millennia lank in slik en sand bewaar voordat dit verlede jaar deur die gety blootgestel is, en gee 'n lewendige blik op sommige van ons oudste voorouers. Hulle is agtergelaat deur 'n groep, waaronder minstens twee kinders en een volwasse man. Dit kon 'n gesin gewees het wat op die oewer van 'n rivier gesoek het, wat wetenskaplikes dink die ou Teems kan wees, langs grasvelde waar bison, mammoet, seekoeie en renosters rondloop.

Clive Gamble, professor in argeologie aan die Universiteit van Southampton, wat nie by die projek betrokke was nie, het gesê dat die ontdekking 'uiters belangrik' is.

'Dit is net so tasbaar,' het hy gesê. 'Dit is die naaste wat ons aan die mense gekom het.

'Toe ek daarvan hoor, was dit soos om die eerste reël van (William Blake se gesang)' Jerusalem 'te hoor -' En het die voete in die ou tyd op die berge van Engeland groen geloop? ' Wel, hulle het op sy modderige riviermonding geloop. "

Die navorsers het gesê dat die mense wat die voetspore getrap het, moontlik verband gehou het met die Homo -voorganger, of 'die pionierman', waarvan die versteende oorskot in Spanje gevind is. Die spesie het ongeveer 800 000 jaar gelede doodgegaan.

Ashton het gesê die voetspore is tussen 800 000 - "as 'n konserwatiewe skatting" - en 1 miljoen jaar oud, ten minste 100,000 jaar ouer as wetenskaplikes se vroeëre skatting van die eerste menslike bewoning in Brittanje. Dit is belangrik, want 700 000 jaar gelede het Brittanje 'n warm, Mediterreense klimaat gehad. Die vroeëre tydperk was baie kouer, soortgelyk aan die huidige Skandinawië.

Die argeoloog Chris Stringer van die Natural History Museum het gesê dat Brittanje 800 000 of 900 000 jaar gelede 'die rand van die bewoonde wêreld' was.

'Dit laat ons heroorweeg na ons gevoelens oor die vermoë van hierdie vroeë mense, dat hulle toestande ietwat kouer as die huidige kon hanteer,' het hy gesê.

"Miskien het hulle kulturele aanpassings by die koue gehad wat ons nie eens 900 000 jaar gelede gedink het moontlik was nie. Het hulle klere gedra? Het hulle skuilings, windskerms en so meer gemaak? Kan hulle dalk vuur gebruik so ver terug?" vra hy.

Wetenskaplikes het die voetspore gedateer deur hul geologiese posisie te bestudeer en van nabygeleë fossiele van lank uitgestorwe diere, waaronder mammoet, ou perd en vroeë vol.

John McNabb, direkteur van die Sentrum vir die Argeologie van Menslike Oorsprong aan die Universiteit van Southampton - wat nie deel van die navorsingspan was nie - het gesê dat die gebruik van verskeie bewyslyne beteken dat "die afspraak redelik goed is."

Sodra dit ontbloot is, is die bederflike afdrukke opgeteken met behulp van gesofistikeerde digitale fotografie om 3D-beelde te skep waarin dit moontlik is om voetbome en selfs tone te sien.

Isabelle De Groote, 'n spesialis in antieke menslike oorskot aan die John John Moores -universiteit in Liverpool, wat aan die vonds gewerk het, het gesê dat die groep vroeë mense volgens die patroon van die afdrukke 'rondpot', miskien om kos te soek.

Sy het gesê dat dit nie veel moeite was om dit 'n gesin te noem nie.

'Hierdie individue wat saam reis, is waarskynlik een of ander manier verwant,' het sy gesê.

Navorsing in Happisburgh sal voortgaan, en wetenskaplikes hoop om versteende oorblyfsels van die ou mense, of bewyse van hul woonkwartiere, te vind om 'n vollediger beeld van hul lewens te kry.

The footprint find will form part of an exhibition, "Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story," opening at the Natural History Museum next week.

The footprints themselves, which survived for almost 1 million years, won't be there. Two weeks after they were uncovered, North Sea tides had washed them away.


900,000 year old footprints of earliest northern Europeans discovered

Footprints left behind by what may be one our first human ancestors to arrive in Britain have been discovered on a beach in Norfolk.

The preserved tracks, which consisted of 49 imprints in a soft sedimentary rock, are believed to be around 900,000 years old and could transform scientists understanding of how early humans moved around the world.

The footprints were found in what scientists have described as a "million to one" discovery last summer when heavy seas washed sand off the foreshore in Happisburgh, Norfolk.

The find has only now been made public and are thought to be the oldest evidence of early humans in northern Europe yet to be discovered.

The footprints, above, were were uncovered at low tide after stormy seas in May 2013 removed large amounts of sand from the beach

Anthropologists and evolutionary biologists from around the UK have been studying the tracks, and believe they may have been related to an extinct form of human ancestor known as Homo antecessor, or "Pioneer Man".

The tracks include up to five different prints, indicating a group of both adults and children walked across the ancient wet estuary silt.

They are the earliest direct evidence of human ancestors in the area and may belong to some of the first ever Britons.

Until now the oldest human remains to be found in Europe all come from around the far south of the continent, including stone tools found in southern Italy and a tooth found in Spain.

Skull fragments from that are around 780,000 years old hominid – the term used by scientists for early humans – were also found in southern Spain.

Previously the oldest evidence of humans in Britain were a set of stone tools dated to 700,000 years ago from near Lowestoft in Suffolk, although more recently stone tools were also discovered at the site in Happisburgh.

Dr Nick Ashton, curator of the department of prehistory of Europe at the British Museum and an archaeologist at University College London, said: “These are the oldest human footprints outside Africa. It is an extremely rare and lucky discovery.

“The slim chance of surviving in the first place, the sea exposing it in the right way and thirdly us finding it at the right time – I’d say it was a million to one find.

The footprint hollows in situ on the beach as Happisburgh, Norfolk

“Footprints give you a tangible link that stone tools and even human remains cannot replicate.

“We were able to build up a picture of what five individuals were doing on one day.

“The Happisburgh site continues to re-write our understanding of the early human occupation of Britain and indeed Europe."

The discovery was unveiled at the British Museum in London and in the scientific journal PLOS One and will feature in a new exhibition at the Natural History Museum.

There are only three other sites in the world that have older footprints, all of which are in Africa – a set is 3.5 million years old in Tanzania and some that are 1.5 million years old in Kenya.

The Happisburgh prints were uncovered at low tide after stormy seas in May 2013 removed large amounts of sand from the beach to reveal a series of elongated hollows in the compacted ancient silt.

Scientists removed remaining sand and sponged off the sea water before taking 3D scans and images of the surface.

In some cases researchers were able to identify heel marks, foot arches and even toes from the prints. They found prints equivalent to up to a UK shoe size eight.

They also estimate that the individuals who left the prints ranged from around two feet 11 inches tall to five feet eight inches tall. At least two or three of the group were thought to be children and one was possibly an adult male.

Dr Isabelle De Groote, an anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University who studied the prints, said: “We have identified at least five individuals here.

“It is likely they were somehow related, and if they were not direct family members they will have belonged to the same family group.

“The footprints were fairly close together so we think they were walking rather than running. Most were directly alongside the river in a southerly direction but also there were some going in all different directions like they were pottering around.

“If you imagine walking along a beach now with children then they would be running around.”

Unfortunately the prints themselves were quickly eroded away by the sea and have now been lost.

Happisburgh is one of the fastest eroding parts of the British coastline. The Environment Agency and local authority decided some years ago to abandon maintenance of the sea defences there as it was no longer considered to be cost effective.

Scientists hope, however, that as further parts of the coastline are eroded more evidence of human activity and perhaps more footprints will be uncovered.

From their analysis of the prints, researchers believe the group were probably heading in a southerly direction over what would at the time have been an estuary surrounded by salt marsh and coniferous forest.

At the time Britain was connected to continental Europe by land and the site at Happisburgh would have been on the banks of a wide estuary several miles from the coast.

The estuary itself would have provided a rich array of plants, seaweed and shellfish. Fossils of mammoth, an extinct kind of horse and early forms of voles have also been found at the site Happisburgh.

The early humans could also have hunted or scavenged the grazing herds for meat.

The discovery of the footprints is particularly significant as there are few surviving tracks of human ancestors elsewhere in the world.

Scientists can glean large amounts of information about our ancestors, including the size of the groups they travelled in, how they walked, their size and weight.

The prints were discovered in deposits that have also revealed stone tools and fossilised bones dating to between 800,000 and one million years ago.

Dr Simon Lewis, a geoarchaeologist at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Although we knew the sediments were old, we had to be certain that the hollows were also ancient and hadn’t been created recently.

“There are no known erosional processes that create that pattern.

“In addition the sediments are too complicated for the hollows to have been made recently.”

Early primitive human ancestors first began to appear in Africa around 4.4 million years ago and are thought to have only left the continent around 1.8 million years ago and are not thought to have arrived in Europe until around 1 million years ago.

Extinct species such as the Neanderthals appeared first appeared between 400,000 and 600,000 years ago, while modern humans - Homo sapiens – first began to emerge from Africa around 125,000 years ago but did not arrive in Europe until around 40,000 years ago.

It is thought that the footprints may have belonged to a relative of a Homo antecessor – an extinct hominid species that may have been a common ancestor to both modern humans and Neanderthals, although such theories are still highly disputed.

Remains from Homo antecessor were discovered in the Atapuerca Mountains in Spain.

Professor Chris Stringer, an eminent anthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London who worked with the team, said: “The humans who made the Happisburgh footprints may well have been related to the people of similar antiquity fromi 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.

"Neanderthals followed from about 400,000 years ago and eventually modern humans some 40,000 years ago.”


Floor of oldest forest discovered in Schoharie County

Working in conjunction with William Stein at Binghamton University, Frank Mannolini of the New York State Museum developed a sketch of what the Gilboa forest site might have looked like about 385 million years ago. Credit: Frank Mannolini, New York State Museum

Scientists from Binghamton University and Cardiff University, and New York State Museum researchers, and have reported the discovery of the floor of the world's oldest forest in a cover article in the March 1 issue of Nature, a leading international journal of science.

"It was like discovering the botanical equivalent of dinosaur footprints," said William Stein, associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, and one of the article's authors. "But the most exciting part was finding out just how many different types of footprints there were. The newly uncovered area was preserved in such a way that we were literally able to walk among the trees, noting what kind they were, where they had stood and how big they had grown."

Scientists are now piecing together a view of this ancient site, dating back about 385 million years ago, which could shed new light on the role of modern-day forests and their impact on climate change.

The recent discovery was made in the same area in Schoharie County where fossils of the Earth's oldest trees – the Gilboa stumps – were discovered in the 1850s, 1920 and again in 2010 and were brought to the State Museum. The Museum has the world's largest and best collection of Gilboa fossil tree stumps. For decades scientists did not know what the trees connected to the stumps looked like. That mystery was solved when Linda VanAller Hernick, the State Museum's Paleontology collections manager, and Frank Mannolini, Paleontology collections technician, found fossils of the tree's intact crown in a nearby location in 2004, and a 28-foot-long trunk portion in 2005. The discovery of the 385-million-year-old specimens was named one of the "100 top Science Stories of 2007" by Discover Magazine. Stein, Mannolini, Hernick, and Dr. Christopher M. Berry, a paleobotany lecturer at Cardiff University in Wales, co-authored a Nature article reporting that discovery, as well as the most recent one. Working in conjunction with Stein, Mannolini also developed a sketch of the ancient forest.

This is Dr. Chris Berry at the quarry. Credit: Cardiff University

"This spectacular discovery and the resulting research provide more answers to the questions that have plagued scientists for more than a century since the first Gilboa stumps were uncovered and brought to the State Museum," said Hernick, whose passionate interest in the fossils date back to her childhood exposure to the Gilboa fossils.

In 2003 Hernick wrote "The Gilboa Fossils," a book published by the State Museum, about the history and significance of the fossils and their use in an iconic exhibition about the Earth's oldest forest that was in the Museum's former location in the State Education Department building on Washington Avenue. One of the key planners of the exhibition, which influenced generations of paleontologists, was Winifred Goldring, the nation's first female state paleontologist who was based at the State Museum. She worked tirelessly to study and interpret the Gilboa fossils and named the trees Eospermatopteris, or "ancient seed fern." In 1924, her paper about the stumps, together with the Museum exhibition, brought the "Gilboa forest" to the attention of the world. One of the Gilboa stumps will be on display in the Museum lobby, beginning March 2.

William Stein, associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, carefully places one of the world's oldest trees in the University's greenhouse. Credit: Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University

Following the discovery of the tree's crown, a thorough investigation was conducted by Stein and Christopher M. Berry, a paleobotany lecturer at Cardiff University in Wales and the other co-author of both Nature articles. They were able to determine that these trees actually resembled modern-day cycads or tree ferns, but interestingly enough, were not related to either one. Many questions still remained about what the surrounding area looked like, whether other plant life co-existed with these trees and how.

In 2010, during ongoing repair of the Gilboa Dam, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) engineers excavated infill from a quarry in Schoharie County. They agreed to allow researchers to re-examine the site where the fossils had been found when the dam was built in the 1920s. What they found this time was a large, substantially intact portion of the ancient forest horizon, complete with root systems. As they had expected, Eospermatopteris root systems of different sizes were the most abundant. But what they didn't expect to find was the level of detail of the overall composition of the forest.

The first glimpse of the unexpected complexity of this ancient forest came when Stein, Berry, Hernick and Mannolini found the remains of large scrambling tree-sized plants, identified as aneurophytaleans. These plants were likely close ecological associates to the original trees, living among them on the forest floor like modern ferns, possibly scrambling into the forest canopy much as tropical vines do today. The aneurophytes are the first in the fossil record to show true "wood" and the oldest known group in the lineage that lead to modern seed plants.

Work on the new discoveries also pointed to the vital importance that the State Museum's collections have played in the paleontological research. "Discovery of scrambling aneurophytaleans at Gilboa was a complete surprise, but pointed to the likelihood that similar material had already been found at the site, but was unrecognized," said Hernick. "Sure enough in the State Museum collections a wonderful specimen, originally collected in the 1920s, provided additional key evidence."

The team also came across a tree belonging to the class Lycopsida, or club mosses, which predates an earlier discovery made in Naples, NY and an ecologically important group in the history of land plants. The lycopsids are an ancient group of non-seed plants represented today by low growing forms such as the "running pines" of the northern hardwood forests of New York. They also inhabited swamps and ended up being much of the Pennsylvanian coal we burn today.

Based on the new research, the team now believes that the area probably enjoyed a wetland environment in a tropical climate. It was filled with large Eospermatopteris trees that resembled weedy, hollow, bamboo-like plants, with roots spreading out in all directions, allowing other plants to gain a foothold. Scrambling among these roots on the forest floor were aneurophytaleans, acting much like ferns do today, and possibly climbing into the forest canopy as vines. The lycopsids, although seemingly rare, may also have been very important in certain places although perhaps not yet as specialized inhabitants of swamps.

But what the research team believes is most important about this particular site is what it was doing to impact the rest of the planet. At the time the Gilboa forest began to emerge -- during the Middle Devonian period, about 385 million years ago – Earth experienced a dramatic drop in global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and the associated cooling led ultimately to a period of glaciation.

"Trees probably changed everything," said Stein. "Not only did these emerging forests likely cause important changes in global patterns of sedimentation, but they may have triggered a major extinction in fossil record."

For Stein, it all comes down to one thing – how much we don't know but need to understand about our ancient past. "The complexity of the Gilboa site can teach us a lot about the original assembly of our modern day ecosystems," said Stein. "As we continue to understand the role of forests in modern global systems, and face potential climate change and deforestation on a global scale, these clues from the past may offer valuable lessons for managing our planet's future."

More information: “Surprisingly complex community discovered in the mid-Devonian fossil forest at Gilboa” Nature (2012).


Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk

The footprints are more than 800,000 years old and were found on the shores of Happisburgh.

They are direct evidence of the earliest known humans in northern Europe.

Details of the extraordinary markings have been published in the science journal Plos One.

The footprints have been described as "one of the most important discoveries, if not the most important discovery that has been made on [Britain's] shores," by Dr Nick Ashton of the British Museum.

"It will rewrite our understanding of the early human occupation of Britain and indeed of Europe," he told BBC News.

The markings were first indentified in May last year during a low tide. Rough seas had eroded the sandy beach to reveal a series of elongated hollows.

I walked with Dr Ashton along the shore where the discovery was made. He recalled how he and a colleague stumbled across the hollows: "At the time, I wondered ɼould these really be the case? If it was the case, these could be the earliest footprints outside Africa and that would be absolutely incredible."

Such discoveries are very rare. The Happisburgh footprints are the only ones of this age in Europe and there are only three other sets that are older, all of which are in Africa.

"At first, we weren't sure what we were seeing," Dr Ashton told me, "but it was soon clear that the hollows resembled human footprints."

The hollows were washed away not long after they were identified. The team were, however, able to capture the footprints on video that will be shown at an exhibition at London's Natural History Museum later this month.

The video shows the researchers on their hands and knees in cold, driving rain, engaged in a race against time to record the hollows. Dr Ashton recalls how they scooped out rainwater from the footprints so that they could be photographed. "But the rain was filling the hollows as quickly as we could empty them," he told me.

The team took a 3D scan of the footprints over the following two weeks. A detailed analysis of these images by Dr Isabelle De Groote of Liverpool John Moores University confirmed that the hollows were indeed human footprints, possibly of five people, one adult male and some children.

Dr De Groote said she could make out the heel, arch and even toes in some of the prints, the largest of which would have filled a UK shoe size 8 (European size 42 American size 9) .

"When I was told about the footprints, I was absolutely stunned," Dr De Groote told BBC News.

"They appear to have been made by one adult male who was about 5ft 9in (175cm) tall and the shortest was about 3ft. The other larger footprints could come from young adult males or have been left by females. The glimpse of the past that we are seeing is that we have a family group moving together across the landscape."

It is unclear who these humans were. One suggestion is that they were a species called Homo antecessor, which was known to have lived in southern Europe. It is thought that these people could have made their way to what is now Norfolk across a strip of land that connected the UK to the rest of Europe a million years ago. They would have disappeared around 800,000 years ago because of a much colder climate setting in not long after the footprints were made.

It was not until 500,000 years ago that a species called Homo heidelbergensis lived in the UK. It is thought that these people evolved into early Neanderthals some 400,000 years ago. The Neanderthals then lived in Britain intermittently until about 40,000 years ago - a time that coincided with the arrival of our species, Homo sapiens.

There are no fossils of antecessor in Happisburgh, but the circumstantial evidence of their presence is getting stronger by the day.

In 2010, the same research team discovered the stone tools used by such people. And the discovery of the footprints now all but confirms that humans were in Britain nearly a million years ago, according to Prof Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, who is also involved in the research at Happisburgh.

"This discovery gives us even more concrete evidence that there were people there," he told BBC News. "We can now start to look at a group of people and their everyday activities. And if we keep looking, we will find even more evidence of them, hopefully even human fossils. That would be my dream".


Million-year-old footprints found

They were a British family on a day out — almost a million years ago.

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of human footprints in England that are between 800,000 and 1 million years old — the most ancient found outside Africa, and the earliest evidence of human life in northern Europe.

A team from the British Museum, London’s Natural History Museum and Queen Mary college at the University of London uncovered imprints from up to five individuals in ancient estuary mud at Happisburgh on the country’s eastern coast.

British Museum archaeologist Nick Ashton said the discovery — recounted in detail in the journal PLOS ONE — was ‘‘a tangible link to our earliest human relatives.’’

Preserved in layers of silt and sand for hundreds of millennia before being exposed by the tide last year, the prints give a vivid glimpse of some of our most ancient ancestors.

They were left by a group, including at least two children and one adult male. They could have been be a family foraging on the banks of a river scientists think may be the ancient Thames, beside grasslands where bison, mammoth, hippos and rhinoceros roamed.

University of Southampton archaeology professor Clive Gamble, who was not involved in the project, said the discovery was ‘‘tremendously significant''.

‘‘It’s just so tangible,’’ he said. ‘‘This is the closest we’ve got to seeing the people. ‘‘When I heard about it, it was like hearing the first line of (William Blake’s hymn) Jerusalem — ‘And did those feet, in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green?’ Well, they walked upon its muddy estuary.’’

The researchers said the humans who left the footprints may have been related to Homo antecessor, or ‘‘pioneer man,’’ whose fossilised remains have been found in Spain.

That species died out about 800,000 years ago. Ashton said the footprints are between 800,000 — ‘‘as a conservative estimate’’ — and 1 million years old, at least 100,000 years older than scientists’ earlier estimate of the first human habitation in Britain.

That’s significant because 700,000 years ago, Britain had a warm, Mediterranean-style climate. The earlier period was much colder, similar to modern-day Scandinavia. 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 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 Centre 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.’’

Once uncovered, the perishable prints were recorded using sophisticated digital photography to create 3-D images in which it’s possible to discern arches of feet, and even toes.

Isabelle De Groote, a specialist in ancient human remains at Liverpool John Moores University who worked on the find, said that from the pattern of the prints, the group of early humans appeared to be ‘‘pottering around,’’ perhaps foraging for food. She said it wasn’t too much of a stretch to call it a family.

‘‘These individuals travelling together, it’s likely that they were somehow related,’’ she said. Research at Happisburgh will continue, and scientists are hopeful of finding fossilised remains of the ancient humans, or evidence of their living quarters, to build up a fuller picture of their lives. The footprint find will form part of an exhibition, ‘‘Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story,’’ opening at the Natural History Museum next week.

The footprints themselves, which survived for almost 1 million years, won’t be there. Two weeks after they were uncovered, North Sea tides had washed them away.


Kyk die video: Valiant Swart saam met Voetspore by Muisbosskerm (Januarie 2022).