Global Rescue sponsors expedition to what might be modern man’s oldest footprints

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August 27, 2009

Categories: In Action,

An expedition to Northern Tanzania earlier this month collected data from a set of ancient human footprints that may turn out to be the world’s oldest of modern man.

The prints are in hardened ash about a mile from the base of an active volcano, and are believed to be about 120,000 years old. While there are known footprints of other human ancestors, such as Australopithecus afarensis, that date back more than 3 million years, and others from the Homo genus dating back more than 350,000, if confirmed by later analysis, these are likely to be the oldest Homo sapiens footprints known to scientists.

The group was led by Dr. Cynthia Liutkus, assistant professor of geology at Appalachian State University. Accompanying Dr. Liutkus and her student, Kate McGinnis, were Dr. Michael Manyak, an expert in expedition medicine, and Mr. Jim Brett, a conservationist and ornithologist who first brought this discovery to the attention of scientists. Global Rescue was one of the sponsors of the expedition and stood by to provide medical evacuation support, if needed, from the remote African plains. Dr. Manyak and Mr. Brett are also members of The Explorers Club and carried The Explorers Club Flag awarded to Mr. Brett for this expedition.

Dr. Manyak described the trip to the location as a “five-hour drive over rough roads” from Arusha, a northern Tanzanian outpost best known as a jumping-off point for expeditions to Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Mr. Brett was made aware of the site in this remote location by local Maasai herders as well as employees of the nearby Ngare Sero Tented Camp, and organized the first scientific study conducted at the site. The data from laboratory analysis and photos will be submitted to a major scientific journal for publication. Further excavation and protection of the site are goals in the near future.


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