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article imageHuman footprints found on Calvert Island oldest in North America

By Marcus Hondro     Jun 24, 2015 in Science
An amazing archaeological find has been made on British Columbia's Calvert Island. It consists of 12 human footprints from three persons, thought to be the oldest footprints in all of North America.
Prints radiocarbon dated
The cluster of footprints are from two adults, one large, the other small, and one child, likely a family, and they show the three were huddled around a fire on the island; radiocarbon dating indicated they were finding warmth together about 13,200 years ago.
Charcoal from the fire survived in the footprints and made radiocarbon dating possible. The prints were discovered during an archaeological dig on the island by two B.C. institutions, the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria.
The 12 impressions survived in clay formations and also found in the area were other prints, much younger at just 2,000 years old. Archaeologists Dr. Daryl Fedje and Dr. Duncan McLaren found the prints during excavation work below the high-tide line on a shoreline of Calvert Island.
Oldest footprints discovered
The date on which the prints were left on the island has yet to be confirmed but is expected to be in the near future; once that time of 13,200 years ago is confirmed the footprints will officially become the oldest known footprints in North America.
They are not, however, the oldest known footprints in the Americas. In Monte Verde, Chile a site there has produced footprints dating back 14,800 years.
The findings should help archaeologists add to their knowledge of migration at the time and suggest the three owners of the prints were moving about by boat. "There's no way to get to Calvert Island other than watercraft, and that applies to 13,000 years ago as it does today," Dr McLaren said.
Calvert Island is located in B.C.'s Central Coast region in waters about 100 kilometres north of the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
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