Archaeologists have recently discovered human footprints on a beach on Calvert Island, northeast of Vancouver Island, Canada. These footprints appear to date back to 13,000 years ago. That would mean these are the oldest footprints to be found in North America.
The discovery was published in a study in the PLOS ONE journal. Prior to publishing the study, the excavations took place between 2014 and 2016, where archaeologists, students from the University of Victoria worked together with the representatives from both the Heiltsuk First Nation and the Wuikinuxv First Nation.
During the excavation, the professor of anthropology and lead author Duncan McLaren (from the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria), has stated that they found 29 footprints.
Scientists Are Certain The Footprints Belonged to Humans
The study writes: “based on the clear arch, toe, and offset heel attributes of the tracks found during excavations, we are certain that they were left by human feet.”
The paper continues stating that they measured the footprints and discovered that they “correspond to modern day US shoe sizes of a junior size 8, a junior size 1 or woman’s size 3, and a woman’s size 8-9 (or man’s size 7-8).”
Duncan McLaren said that they “digitally enhanced the photos and saw clear toe marks. It is very possible that people had footwear such as moccasins and fur boots but did not need them all the time or in every season.”
Humans from Asia to First Set Foot in North America
According to the study, it looks like humans were walking on the Pacific coast 13,000 years ago, and that the place wasn’t covered in ice before the last ice age (- which ended about 11,700 years ago). Moreover, the study strengthens the hypothesis that the first humans to reach North America came from Asia on a land corridor that wasn’t covered in ice and that they arrived in today’s British Columbia.
However, the hypothesis is questionable, as that area is covered in a dense forest that can only be accessed by using a boat. So, the researchers excavated on a zone on Calvert Island that the water level was 2-3 meters lower at the end of the ice age than today.
The authors of the study suggest that they would find out more methods to uncover footprints after further excavation. This way, they could discover information on human settlements in North America.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.