New Insights: Happisburgh Footprints Morphology

Human Evolution

The data set used within the present study includes hominin trackways that have been attributed to six distinct hominin species within two genera, spanning from the Pliocene to the Holocene. Even across such a broad sample of time and space, some aspects of track morphology are found to be remarkably consistent. However, between-sample differences were identified in three morphological aspects of the tracks. These differences are related to the prominence and position of the medial midfoot impression, the abduction angle of the hallux impression, and the length of the forefoot relative to the rest of the track. Generally, comparing sites across time from the Pliocene to the Holocene, the MLA is more prominent, the hallux is less abducted (this variable achieved the greatest discrimination between assumed species), and the forefoot is relatively shorter in more recent track samples. The linear dimensions classified the potential H. antecessor tracks from Happisburgh (pronounced Haysbra) as being most similar to the H. erectus prints from Ileret, suggesting the dimensions and shape of Pleistocene tracks were likely similar. Importantly, this is the first study to specifically examine the morphology of the Happisburgh tracks within such a broad comparative context. The Happisburgh tracks are found to be morphologically similar to other Early Pleistocene and Holocene hominin tracks consistent with the geological age of the site, yet distinct from the Pliocene tracks from Laetoli.

Check out the paper Here