Paleoanthropologists have discovered shoe prints in South Africa that are about 100,000 years old, a discovery that could lead to revised ideas about human development. Researchers from Nelson Mandela University in Gkeberge report that the footprints found, while not conclusive evidence, were probably left by early humans. If confirmed, it would mean that ancient humans, including Neanderthals, could have worn shoes as early as more than 100,000 years ago.
The sensational discovery was made at three archaeological sites in South Africa. Although it is difficult to determine exactly when humans started wearing shoes, these footprints are the oldest known. They were found on a fossilized slab in Garden Route National Park, which was probably coastal clay at the time humans walked on it. The shape of the footprints clearly indicates that they were left by humans, but there are no fingerprints, which may indicate that the feet were shoes.
Scientists have also noticed tiny indentations around the edges of the prints, which may be traces of “laces” used to tie primitive shoes to the feet. Similar prints have been found at other archaeological sites in Eddo Elefant and Guacamma National Parks. Researchers note that indigenous peoples still wear primitive shoes resembling sandals, and the footprints of such shoes in the wet sand of the coastal strip are very similar to the fossilized footprints found.
However, despite all these discoveries, scientists have not yet been able to reliably date the fossils. Preliminary dating has shown that the footprints could have been left between 73,000 and 148,000 years ago. More research is needed for more precise dating.
The discovery of these ancient footprints is of great importance to our understanding of human evolution. If confirmed, it will overturn our ideas about when and how humans began using shoes. It will also be evidence that our ancient ancestors already had sufficient intelligence and technological skills to create and use shoes more than 100,000 years ago.