Modern-day trackers reinterpret Stone Age cave footprints | Science News


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Modern-day trackers reinterpret Stone Age cave footprints

Hunter-gatherer savvy helps archaeologists analyze early European activities

9:00am, June 11, 2015
possible footprints from a young girl

GIRL INTERRUPTED  African trackers concluded that this set of ancient footprints in a French cave came from a 12-year-old girl who left an uneven number of left and right foot impressions. A dotted box marks a complete pair of footprints. 

Three African hunters and animal trackers have cornered an especially elusive prey — long-gone Stone Age people who left footprints in some of Western Europe’s decorated caves.

Frustrated by the inability of footprint measurements to reveal ancient human activities in the caves, a team led by Andreas Pastoors of the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany, called in a trio of Namibian Ju/’hoan San men who hunt together. Aside from tracking a range of animals, these men belong to a community where everyone learns to distinguish footprints of family and friends.

During visits to four French caves in 2013, the trackers offered new takes on behaviors reflected in ancient human foot impressions, Pastoors and colleagues report online May 6 in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal. Artifacts previously

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