Friday, March 13, 2015

Fooot* (for Foot*)

On March 13, 2003, the oldest human footprints were found in Italy. The fossilized prints were preserved in ash on the Roccamonfina volcano and show that these people walked upright, occasionally steadying themselves with their hands as they scrambled down the side of the active volcano. They are estimated to be from 350,000 years ago and were made by members of the genus Homo – that is, the one to which we belong.

One of the researchers involved in studying the footprints, Dr. Paolo Mietto, said that “Finding the footprints was a shocking experience - an astounding experience” (according to an article from the BBC).  Imagine being involved in a finding of this enormity – my imagination can’t even grasp it.

Whenever I’ve been asked when I’d time travel to (a question that comes up fairly often over beer at the campus pub) I’ve been fairly flippant and said “To see the original lineup of Pink Floyd” or something similar. But in reality, I’d love to meet our bipedal ancestors. How did they think? Would we be able to communicate in some way? Would we recognize each other as relatives? I imagine it would be completely fascinating.

The error Fooot* appears 122 times in Worldcat.

Leanne Olson

(Generic footprint image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. For a picture of the actual footprints, see BBC news.)

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