Human footprints in Pleistocene volcanic ash


These ancient tracks are the oldest known to have been made by fully bipedal humans.


We have analysed three fossilized trackways of human footprints in a zeolite-rich pyroclastic flow dated to 385,000325,000 years ago (kyr), discovered along the western margin of the Roccamonfina volcanic complex in southern Italy. We believe that these tracks are the oldest human footprints found so far and that they were made by hominids who had a fully bipedal, free-standing gait, using their hands only to steady themselves on the difficult descent.

Abstract of Mietto et al Nature 422, 133