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article imageRough seas uncover earliest human footprints outside of Africa

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By Kev Hedges     Feb 7, 2014 in Environment
Happisburgh - Human footprints have been discovered on a beach on the Norfolk coastline in England, said to be more than 800,000 years old. The footprints are the oldest discovered outside the African continent.
The footprints have provided scientists with clear evidence that prehistoric humans were active and existed in northern Europe. According to Nick Ashton of the British Museum the find is said to be, "one of the most important discoveries, if not the most important discovery that has been made on [Britain's] shores," and the find could rewrite the history and understanding of humans who occupied parts of Britain and Europe.
The first indication of the markings of the footprints were discovered last May 2013, when an exceptionally low tide and rough seas had revealed the several hollows. There are only three other sets of footprints that are older than the ones found in Happisburgh, all of which are located in Africa, reports BBC Science.
The scientists had to work against the clock before the next high tide came in and washed the evidence away. But the find was videoed and will be shown at the Natural History Museum in March.
The prints had been left by a small party of adults, evident by size 8 feet, and children — possibly looking for food. The foot size suggests the adults stood around 5 feet 7 inches (1.70m) tall. But as the winter storms batter the coastline of the UK, scientists are hoping for several more prints to be uncovered. The cliffs in the area are eroding back at alarming rates and could expose more prehistoric finds for the first time, scientists hope.
The Happisburgh Project is showcasing the area's link to prehistoric findings where half a million years ago France and the southern coast of England and the Norfolk coastline were linked by a wide expanse of land.
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