There are findings that are challenging what we already, getting to the truth is getting difficult day by day as the number of discoveries increase and people begin questioning history.
New discoveries are always happening and in recent times, history has been challenged. The latest of these challenges has been the fact that our origin is not from Africa as we so largely thought. New found data says that around 5.7 million years ago, the first human-like footprints were seen at Trachilos, Crete. The human foot is distinctively unique compared to other primates. Our toes lack claws, our first and second toes are longer compared to the rest, and we lay the sole of our foot flat on the ground when walking, leaving a unique footprint each time depending on the amount of pressure we release.
The shape of our foot is one of the most defining features of the human clade. This discovery was published in the Proceedings of the Geologist Association. The research stands as controversial in nature as they have contradicted their own words when they believe the earliest human ancestors were wandering around Southern Europe and East Africa long before the footprints had occurred.
The new footprints found are not all of the same sizes; the size ranges from 94mm to 223mm. There are 29 of these upright walking humans who have left their footprints, around 6 million years ago. The period from which these footprints originate is known as Miocene and these footprints discovered are hundred percent human footprints as ape footprints look very different, and their fingers are more wide-spread compared to our fingers.
The footprints discovered were dated using a combination of fossilized marine microorganisms called foraminifera and the character of the local sedimentary rocks. The amount of foraminifera contained in the sedimentary rocks helps date these rocks very precisely as foraminifera evolve rapidly. The initial findings gave an age between 8.5 million years to 3.5 million years. Although, 5.6 million years ago, at the very end of the Miocene, the Mediterranean Sea had dried out completely, leaving clear footprints in the sediments around that area. The sediments in this year are dated to 5.7 million years ago, the period right before the sea dried out.
Human lineage has been thought to have evolved from Ethiopia by most researchers, and the “cradle of humanity” lies in Africa. The earliest known body fossils were found 7 million years ago in Chad. However, the oldest known footprints were found at Laetoli in Tanzania, around 3.55 million years ago. These footprints are more human-like compared to the ones found in Trachilos, as you can significantly point out the shape of our feet and the toes. If it is found that these footprints discovered in Trachilos were indeed made by a human ancestor than the range of our origin would encompass the entire Mediterranean area. Crete was part of Greek at that time and was not an island, the map of the Mediterranean region was very different at that time.
Previously, a 7m-year-old Greek and Bulgarian fossil teeth from a hominin ape coined “El Graeco” was discovered. This is one of the oldest fossils of a human-like ape, which led people to believe that Europe could have been the homeland to our origin, but many researchers remain skeptical. This discovery could help the theory that the footprints discovered in Trachilos came for “El Graeco” and not an actual human ancestor but without any limb or foot bones, you cannot tell.
For us to completely disregard this discovery would be fairly difficult as the footprints look very hominin in nature. There is nothing ill-fitting such as big claws or missing toes which would make it easy for us to disregard this finding. On the other hand, those who still believe Africa is the “cradle of humanity” should look into this research. The researchers behind this study have published over 400 papers on tracks, so I believe they were hundred percent sure before publishing this research for the world to debate on. The footprints itself were questioned on being human footprints at all, but the authentication of the researchers suggests that they know their tracks, so they would not publish a research they were not confident about.
This is not the end of our discoveries, there would be more body fossils to be found which would allow us to understand our origin even better. Scientists should preserve this discovery and study it, stimulating a debate which may lead to greater theories and more discoveries. Let science prevail, and let the debate begin, as we deserve to know the truth, and there is definitely more to the human lineage.