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12,000 Year Old Human Footprints Discovered in Utah Desert
In upcoming research, Cornell researcher Thomas Urban has found human footprints on the salt flats of the Air Force's Utah Testing and Training Range (UTTR) that are thought to have been there since the end of the last ice age.
While traveling to an ancient hearth site at UTTR with Daron Duke of the Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Urban noticed what looked to be "ghost tracks"—tracks that appear abruptly for a little period of time when moisture conditions are ideal, and then vanish once more.
Unshod human footprints, like those he had previously examined at White Sands National Park, including the earliest known human footprints in the Americas, were visible when Urban stopped to take a look. The following day, the team went back to the area to start recording the prints, and Urban used ground-penetrating radar to study one of the two clearly apparent trackways.
Urban was able to find the secret quickly because he had previously improved the use of geophysical techniques, such as radar, for imaging footprints at White Sands. Duke examined a portion of the prints, establishing both their barefoot status and the existence of undiscovered prints. A total of 88 footprints, including those of adults and children, were found, providing information about family life throughout the Pleistocene.
The footprints are most certainly older than 12,000 years, according to Duke, because there haven't been wetland conditions in this isolated region of the Great Salt Lake desert for at least 10,000 years that could have created such footprint tracks.