April 26, 2019 / 10:26 PM / 6 months ago

Oldest human footprint found in the Americas confirmed in Chile: researcher

An ancient footprint is pictured, having formed cracks due to desiccation after being extracted from its original site, in Osorno, Chile sometime in April 2019. Universidad Austral de Chile, Laboratorio de Sitio Pilauco/Handout via REUTERS

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A 15,600-year old footprint discovered in southern Chile is believed to be the oldest ever found in the Americas, according to researchers.

The footprint was first discovered in 2010 by a student at the Universidad Austral of Chile. Scientists then worked for years to rule out the possibility that the print may have belonged to some other species of animal, and to determine the fossil’s estimated age.

Karen Moreno, a paleontologist with the Universidad Austral who has overseen the studies, said researchers had also found bones of animals near the site, including those of primitive elephants, but determined that the footprint was evidence of human presence.

Moreno said this was the first evidence of humans in the Americas older than 12,000 years.

“Little by little in South America we’re starting to find sites with evidence of human presence, but this is this oldest in the Americas,” she said.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero, writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by Bill Berkrot

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