Science: Momentous Footprints on the Island of Crete

The Story: 

Hominids (pre-humans) walked upright on what is now the Mediterranean island of Crete six million years old. That is an inference drawn from the work of an international team of researchers from Germany, Sweden, Greece, Egypt and England. 

The footprints look very human. 


Crete was not an island 6 million years ago. Geologists tell us it was connected to the mainland of Greece. 

The Near East underwent a desertification phase 6.25 million years ago. Scientists theorize that the desertification inspired a migration of European mammals, including perhaps apes, to Africa. Then there may have been a second phase desertification, the growth of the Sahara sealing off tropical Africa from Europe.

During that second phase of what some are calling the “desert swing,” some pre-humans could have made their way north to greener pastures, and in time created the footprints now visible near the Cretan town of Trachilos.  

In Pill Form:

The tracks are more than 2 million years older than those tracks attributed to Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy) in Tanzania, say the experts.  They are roughly contemporary with upright-walking Orrorin tugenensis from Kenya. 


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