Laetoli Footprints from 3.6 Million Years Ago

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Walking in their footsteps

Around 3.6 million years ago a species called Australopithecus afarensis, ancestors to humans, walked along a layer of wet volcanic ash in Tanzania, Africa. Their preserved footprints show that they walked on two legs, just like us. Measuring our foot arches today can help scientists determine how foot arches developed in early humans. There is still great debate among scientists about what these footprints can tell us.

Questions to explore:

Can you help examine these footprints and try to answer these unknown questions?

  • Based on the size, do you think these footprints are from a male or female?
  • Why is the footprint pointed away?
  • Can you tell if they had foot arches?
  • Did they walk like us, with their heel striking the ground first?
  • Did more than two people walk here? Or did a third or fourth person step in the same footprints?