Human footprints that are 40,000 years old have been discovered beside an ancient lake in Mexico. This means that human beings were in the Americas 30,000 years earlier than archeologists once thought.

Robert Adler writes in the July 9-15 issue of New Scientist that archeologists Chris Stringer and Silvia Gonzalez discovered the footprints in a quarry near the town of Puebla in ash from a nearby volcano. The fossilized footprints were made when the humans walked along the shore of a lake. They were submerged when the water level rose and thus were preserved in the lake sediment. Some of them were made by children. The scientists were able to date the prints because they found shells in the sediment, which have been carbon-dated to 38,000 years ago.

It has been assumed that humans made it to South America after a land bridge opened up around 11,000 years ago. While there were earlier arrivals, they would have traveled in boats.

We have had scientists on Dreamland radio who have told about evidence of sea travel out of sight of land as early as prehistoric times. Carved cylindrical maps from 8-12,000 years ago have been found. These were easy to carry and could be rolled in wet sand to produce an accurate picture of a coastline. They were originally assumed to be merely decorative carvings.

Image: Bournemouth University

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