First people in Europe - level 3

First people in Europe - level 3

21-02-2014 17:00

The oldest human footprints outside of Africa have been discovered in Britain, dating back around a million years.

They were found on a beach on the Norfolk coast and are direct evidence of the earliest known humans in Northern Europe.

“They’re without doubt the oldest human footprints in Europe and some of the oldest human footprints in the world, so they’re really incredibly important finds.”

The prints were first discovered in May last year during low tide. Storms and rough seas had eroded the sand at Happisburgh to reveal hollows resembling human footprints. They recorded the surface using photogrammetry, a technique which can stitch together digital photographs to create a permanent record and 3D image of the imprint.

The images and model were unveiled at a news conference at the British Museum in London.

“The spread of footprint size gives us an indication that we have children, a number of children and then probably some adults there with at least one, probably male.”

Discoveries of ancient man footprints are extremely rare. The Happisburgh ones are the only ones of this age in Europe. There are only three other sets that are older and they are in Africa.

Scientists now say the discovery will rewrite our understanding of human occupation of Britain and Europe.

“This suggests that these people indeed had greater capabilities than we thought to expand really to the edge of the inhabited world of that time.”

Difficult words: resemble (be similar to), stitch (put), unveil (show).

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