Human footprints dated 12,000 years before the ICE AGE found in Utah desert salt marshes

Approximately 88 human “ghost footprints” have been found on salt marshes UtahThe Great Salt Lake Desert, thought to have originated over 12,000 years ago and only appears when there is sufficient moisture, then disappears when there is none.

Research team involved Cornell University determined that the prints belonged to adults and children who walked through shallow water during the ice age, when the now dry landscape was covered with swamps. The sand in the water quickly filled their tracks, but the dirt underneath kept the tracks intact.

Since the sand contains more moisture than the surrounding sediment, the right amount of water will cause the marks to stand out against the yellowish brown ground, but then disappear again when the ground dries.

However, the team found much more than they had bargained for: half a mile away was the oldest evidence of human tobacco use.

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The photo shows a set of ghost footprints. The prints can be seen moving away from the nearest one and are seen in a darker shade than the ground.

Ghost footprints in the sand: 12,000-year-old human footprints have been discovered at Utah Air Force Base.  Experts say that they were made by both adults and children.

Ghost footprints in the sand: 12,000-year-old human footprints have been discovered at Utah Air Force Base. Experts say that they were made by both adults and children.

About 33 percent of Utah is desert and is the second driest state in the US after Nevada, but the area was wet thousands of years ago, and even after the end of the last ice age, when the glaciers retreated, the area was still wetter than it is today. .

Climate change has turned the wetlands into a desert, and Utah is landlocked, cutting off moisture-laden ocean winds.

However, changing the landscape is what has preserved the traces of the 12,000-year-old ghosts.

Thomas Urban of Cornell was called to the US Air Force Test and Training Range in Utah when someone noticed strange formations appearing on the ground.

At that time, ancient people walked in shallow water.  Their prints were covered with sand, but the mud at the bottom retained its shape.  Since the sand contains more moisture than the surrounding sediment, when there is enough water in the ground, the prints on the surface become darker.

At that time, ancient people walked in shallow water. Their prints were covered with sand, but the mud at the bottom retained its shape. Since the sand contains more moisture than the surrounding sediment, when there is enough water in the ground, the prints on the surface become darker.

Experts explored the bowels of the earth and when they dug up the prints, they were able to confirm their location.  Pictured right is Daron Duke of the Far Western Anthropological Research Group.  He confirmed that the prints were made by adults and children.

Experts explored the bowels of the earth and when they dug up the prints, they were able to confirm their location. Pictured right is Daron Duke of the Far 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 examined the earliest known human footprints in America, which were found in White Sands National Park in New Mexico.

The researchers deployed a GPR survey, which provides a non-invasive way to explore the subsurface, on two visible sets of tracks.

Daron Duke of the Far Western Anthropological Research Group, who worked with Urban, carefully excavated some of the prints.

The team used the method of subsurface exploration without disturbing it, which allowed them to find the prints.  The photo shows a model created by technology

The team used the method of subsurface exploration without disturbing it, which allowed them to find the prints. The photo shows a model created by technology

Duke subsequently confirmed that the people were barefoot and included small children between the ages of five and 12.

Urban worked at the request of the Duke, who had previously found two open-air hearths, a fireplace floor in a military base that also dates from the end of the Ice Age, and on one of them he found traces of human tobacco. use.

“We have been wondering for a long time if there are other sites like White Sands and if GPR would be effective for visualizing traces in places other than White Sands, as this was a very new application of the technology,” Urban said in an interview. statement. “The answer to both questions is yes.

While the Utah site is not as old and perhaps not as extensive as White Sands, Urban said there are many more to be found, and the team said they would publish the full study in the near future.

Footprints in New Mexico were discovered in 2021 and are 23,000 years old.

While the Utah site is not as old and perhaps not as extensive as White Sands (pictured), Urban said there are many more to be found, and the team said they would publish the full study in the near future.  Footprints in New Mexico were discovered in 2021 and are 23,000 years old.

While the Utah site is not as old and perhaps not as extensive as White Sands (pictured), Urban said there are many more to be found, and the team said they would publish the full study in the near future. Footprints in New Mexico were discovered in 2021 and are 23,000 years old.

British and American archaeologists have found footprints in the soft mud adjacent to Alkali Flat, a dry lake bed in the southern part of the state.

Using radiocarbon dating of seed layers above and below the tracks, USGS experts determined that the tracks were made over a period of at least 2,000 years.

For decades, Homo sapiens were believed to have 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 much later than study co-author Sally Reynolds and her colleagues suggest.

Few archaeologists have claimed reliable evidence of human habitation older than 16,000 years.