Ancient Kenya fossil footprints show modern feet

WASHINGTON, February 27, 2009 (AFP) – Anthropologists have uncovered ancient fossil footprints in Kenya dating back 1.5 million years, the oldest evidence yet that our ancestors walked like present-day humans, a study showed Thursday.

The footprints were discovered in two sedimentary layers near Ileret in northern Kenya and revealed an essentially modern human-like foot anatomy.

The impressions came from the Homo ergaster, or early Homo erectus, the first hominid whose longer legs and shorter arms corresponded to the body proportions of the modern Homo sapiens, the study’s authors said.

The footprints provided information on the soft tissue form and structure that are not usually available in fossilized bones, explained Matthew Bennett of Bournemouth University in Britain, the lead author of the study published in the journal Science.

Bennett scanned and digitized the footprint to make sure that comparisons with modern human and other fossil hominid footprints were objective.

The upper sediment layer contained three footprint trails: two trails of two prints each, a trail of seven prints and several isolated prints.

The other sediment layer, five meters (16 feet) deeper, preserved a trail of two prints an