Scientists discover 800,000-year-old "pioneer man" footprints in England

A man examines 800,000-year-old footprint hollows left by Homo antecessor, or "pioneer man," found on the beach in Happisburgh, Norfolk, in eastern England. British Museum

LONDON -- Scientists say they have discovered human footprints in England that are at least 800,000 years old - the most ancient found outside Africa, and the earliest evidence of human life in Northern Europe.

A team from the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the University of London uncovered imprints from up to five individuals in ancient estuary mud at Happisburgh on the country's east coast.

British Museum scientist Nick Ashton says the prints are "a tangible link to our earliest human relatives."

The scientists say the humans who left the footprints may have been related to Homo antecessor, or "pioneer man," whose fossilized remains have been found in Spain and who died out 800,000 years ago.

The find was announced Friday, and published in the journal PLOS ONE.

A closeup image of an 800,000-year-old footprint left by Homo antecessor, or "pioneer man," found on the shores of eastern England
A closeup image of an 800,000-year-old footprint left by Homo antecessor, or "pioneer man," found on the shores of eastern England, at Happisburgh, Norfolk.
British Museum
 

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