Newly release research from White Sands National Park reveals evidence of human occupation beginning at least 23,000 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously thought. NPR reports a team of researchers led by Matthew Bennett of Bournemouth University in England examined a set of human footprints preserved on an ancient lakeshore in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park. The team concluded the footprints were made between 21,000 and 23,000 years ago. The date would place human habitation in the Americas during the Last Glacial Maximum and at least 5,000 years earlier than widely accepted evidence has yet suggested. Here’s the official statement from White Sands:
Leave nothing but footprints…
New scientific research conducted at New Mexico’s White Sands National Park has uncovered the oldest known human footprints in North America. The discovery reveals evidence of human occupation in the Tularosa Basin beginning at least 23,000 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously thought.
The fossilized human footprints were buried in multiple layers of gypsum soil on a large playa. Seeds embedded in the footprints were radiocarbon dated and analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey to establish age. The research dramatically extends the range for the coexistence of humans and Pleistocene (ice age) megafauna and confirms that humans were present in North America before the major glacial advances at the height of the last ice age closed migration routes from Asia. Learn more HERE
White Sands contains the world’s largest-known collection of Pleistocene age (ice age) fossilized footprints in the world and has been recognized as a megatracksite since 2014. In addition to human footprints, tracks from the Columbian mammoth, saber-toothed cat, dire wolf, and other ice age animals have been discovered. More information about the park’s fossilized footprints is available HERE.