Fossil Hominoid Tracks

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 30th, 2006


London’s The Sunday Times on April 30, 2006, carries the above remarkable photograph by Michael Amendolia.

This one is from a series of fossil tracks of Pleistocene hominoids from 20,000 B.C., found recently near the Willandra Lakes, New South Wales, Australia. Steve Webb, of Bond University, Queensland, and Mary Pappin Jr, a 26-year-old member of the local Mutthi Mutthi tribe discovered the first of what would be 450 more humanlike tracks, as well as what appear to be spear holes in the ground and the tracks of kangaroos and emus. This is perhaps only an eighth of the total, the rest still covered by dunes, but it is already the largest collection of Ice Age footprints discovered anywhere in the world.

The article in the Times notes:

The footprints vary in length from 6in to nearly 1ft; the smallest feet probably belonged to a child standing 3ft 5in high. The largest two group members, with feet of UK size 12 and 10, were about 6ft 6in and 6ft 4in tall, their impressive height corroborated by skeleton remains from a similar period, also discovered near the lakes. The distances between the footprints gave the archeologists the lengths of the strides taken, and by combining this with estimated leg lengths, they calculated speed – a 2mph dawdle for the child, impressive sprints by the adults. The prints are so well preserved that they contain enough information to confirm these paces: the toes of the fastest men are spread apart, to gain purchase on the slippery mud.

One curious set of footprints appears to have been made by a one-legged man. It is unlikely that someone would have survived an amputation in this hunter-gatherer society, so some archeologists suggest he was playing a hopping game with a child, whose smaller footprints appear alongside. Others think he may have had one leg in a boat, propelling himself along with the other through shallow water.

The only comparable footprints found before are of Neandertals from the caves of Europe, below.




Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

2 Responses to “Fossil Hominoid Tracks”

  1. scmarlowe responds:

    Loren, Given the NSW attribution, they could be from the Australian “Mungo Man” and not one of the “Out of Africa” hominins.

    There are some obvious morphological differences when you compare the NSW prints to the Laetoli and Neanderthal tracks — most promininently the elongated middle and distal phalanges.

  2. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    But my aunt had toes that didn’t look human at all (if you looked at her tracks, she would have looked four toed because of the way her feet were shaped with the little toe laying on top of the toe next to it.) My toes are short and round, my girlfriends are almost like little fingers.
    Are the morphological distances in the middle and distal phalanges enough to make this assumption? What about individual variation? (granted, you are using the geological location of the find as support as well, but I’m asking a more generic type question I suppose. Beyond assumptions for weight, and calculating height based on stride, just how much info can we glean from footprints?)

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