|On right–one tide cycle old, note the displacement rim. On left–fresh track not yet subjected to high tide. Also, note the sandpiper tracks in the foreground. Photo by Joanne McSporran.|
Human footprints found off Canada's Pacific coast may be 13,000 years old, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Duncan McLaren and colleagues from the Hakai Institute and University of Victoria, Canada.
Previous research suggests that, during the last ice age (which ended around 11,700 years ago), humans moved into the Americas from Asia across what was then a land bridge to North America, eventually reaching what is now the west coast of British Columbia, Canada as well as coastal regions to the south.
Along the pacific coast of Canada, much of this shoreline is today covered by dense forest and only accessible by boat, making it difficult to look for the archaeological evidence which might support this hypothesis. In this study, the research team excavated intertidal beach sediments on the shoreline of Calvert Island, British Columbia, where the sea level was two to three meters lower than it is today at the end of the last ice age.
This finding adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the hypothesis that humans used a coastal route to move from Asia to North America during the last ice age. The authors suggest that further excavations with more advanced methods are likely to uncover more human footprints in the area and would help to piece together the patterns of early human settlement on the coast of North America.
"This article details the discovery of footprints on the west coast of Canada with associated radiocarbon dates of 13,000 years before present," says Duncan McLaren, lead author of the study. "This finding provides evidence of the seafaring people who inhabited this area during the tail end of the last major ice age."
The above story is based on Materials provided by PLOS.