Some 88 human ‘ghost tracks’ have been discovered in the salt flats of Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert, which are believed to be over 12,000 years old and only appear when there is just the right amount of moisture. happens – and then disappears when it doesn’t. .
A team of researchers led by Cornell University It was determined that the prints were of adults and children wading through shallow water during the Ice Age, when the now dry landscape was covered in wetlands. The sand in the water quickly filled in their footprints, but the mud below preserved the footprints.
Because the sand holds more moisture than the surrounding sediment, the right amount of water will make the footprints stand out among the tan-colored earth – but then disappear when the earth dries out.
However, the group found more than they bargained for – a mile and a half away was the oldest evidence of human tobacco use.
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Pictured is a set of ghost tracks. The prints can be seen receding from the near distance and appear darker in shade than the ground.
Ghost tracks in the sand: 12,000-year-old human footprints discovered at a US Air Force base in Utah. Experts say they were made by both adults and children.
About 33 percent of Utah is desert and the second driest state in the U.S. after Nevada, but thousands of years ago the area was wetter, and even after the end of the last ice age, when the glaciers retreated, the area is much cooler than it is today. It was also wet. .
Climate change has turned wetlands into a barren land, with Utah’s landlocked location cutting off moisture-rich sea breezes.
However, the changing landscape preserved the 12,000-year-old ghost tracks.
Cornell’s Thomas Urban was called to the U.S. Air Force’s Utah Testing and Training Range after seeing strange shapes on the ground.
Ancient humans were passing through deep waters at that time. Their prints were filled with sand, but the mud below held the formation. Because sand holds more moisture than the surrounding sediment, prints on the surface become darker when there is enough water in the ground.
Experts investigated the surface of the earth and when the prints were dug up, they were able to confirm their location. Pictured at right is Darron Duke with the For Western Anthropological Research Group. He confirmed that the prints were made by adults and children.
Urban immediately knew he was looking at ancient prints because he had previously investigated the oldest human footprints in the United States, discovered in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park.
The researchers deployed a ground-penetrating radar survey, which provides a non-invasive method of investigating the subsurface, on two visible sets of tracks.
Darron Duke of the Far Western Anthropological Research Group, who worked with Urban, carefully excavated a subset of the prints.
The team used a method to probe underground without disturbing it, allowing them to find the prints. An image is a model created by technology.
Afterward, Duke confirmed that the men were barefoot and included children between the ages of five and 12.
Urban was acting at the request of Duke, who had previously found two open-air stoves, a fireplace floor at the military base, which was also at the end of the Ice Age – and one where he smoked human tobacco. Evidence was discovered. use
“We have long wondered whether other sites like White Sands exist, and whether ground-penetrating radar would be useful for imaging footprints at sites other than White Sands,” Urban said in a statement. It would, because it was a very new application of technology.’ Statement The answer to both questions is ‘yes’.
Although the Utah site is not as old and may not be as extensive as White Sands, Urban said there may be more to it, and the team said they will release a full study in the near future.
The New Mexico footprints were discovered in 2021 and date back 23,000 years.
Although the Utah site is not as old and may not be as extensive as White Sands (pictured), Urban said there may be more to it, and the team said they will release a full study in the near future. The New Mexico footprints were discovered in 2021 and date back 23,000 years.
British and American archaeologists uncovered the prints in the soft soil adjacent to the alkali flats on the banks of a dry lake in the southern region of the state.
Using radiocarbon dating of seed layers above and below the tracks, US Geological Survey experts have dated the footprints to a period of at least 2,000 years.
For decades it has been generally believed that Homo sapiens first entered North America between 13,000 and 16,000 years ago – after the melting of the North American ice sheets opened up migration routes and study co-author Sally. Following a proposal by Reynolds and colleagues.
A few archaeologists claim reliable evidence for ancient human habitation older than about 16,000 years.