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Thread: Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk

  1. #1 Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk 
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    Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk


    Scientists have discovered the earliest evidence of human footprints outside of Africa, on the Norfolk Coast in the East of England.
    The footprints are more than 800,000 years old and were found on the shores of Happisburgh.
    They are direct evidence of the earliest known humans in northern Europe.

    BBC News - Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk

    Very interesting discovery, but I do have some questions ...

    The news story said the "The hollows were washed away not long after they were identified". Does that mean sand covered them up again or were they literally eroded away?

    How are they able to establish an age of 800,000 years?


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    Too bad the photo caption was so misleading. They might be human ancestors but they were certainly not made by "humans".


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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    at a stretch you could in the vernacular describe any Homo species as "human", since hominid is by now far too wide a concept to be meaningful
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
    The news story said the "The hollows were washed away not long after they were identified". Does that mean sand covered them up again or were they literally eroded away?
    They were eroded away.

    How are they able to establish an age of 800,000 years?
    From the layer they were found in, which was dated from a combination of the animal remains and paleomagnetism. (I just heard one of the scientists interviewed on the radio.)
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
    The news story said the "The hollows were washed away not long after they were identified". Does that mean sand covered them up again or were they literally eroded away?
    They were eroded away.
    I didn't quite get this part of the story. They lasted 800,000 years, but then were washed away in a couple of weeks. I guess the archaeologists moved a rock and exposed them, or something?
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    Et wuz no Whomans, et wuz Beegfoots.

    Sorry folks but my inner skeptic side is screaming at my inner credulous creationist side, and winning.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I didn't quite get this part of the story. They lasted 800,000 years, but then were washed away in a couple of weeks. I guess the archaeologists moved a rock and exposed them, or something?
    I think the (softer) layers above were washed away and then the scientists just happened to be passing at low tide.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Too bad the photo caption was so misleading. They might be human ancestors but they were certainly not made by "humans".
    I'm not an expert on the terminology. but the the BBC News report described the footprints as being made by an earlier human species than homo sapiens.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I didn't quite get this part of the story. They lasted 800,000 years, but then were washed away in a couple of weeks. I guess the archaeologists moved a rock and exposed them, or something?
    From what I'm gathering, certain conditions exposed the layer which was then [relatively] quickly eroded away.

    That's the first time I've ever heard of this happening. It's hard to believe that over the course of 800,000 years the layer stayed protected.

    That isn't to say I don't believe it to be true. I'm just amazed that the set of circumstances unfolded as they did.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
    The news story said the "The hollows were washed away not long after they were identified". Does that mean sand covered them up again or were they literally eroded away?
    They were eroded away.
    I didn't quite get this part of the story. They lasted 800,000 years, but then were washed away in a couple of weeks. I guess the archaeologists moved a rock and exposed them, or something?
    The area has been the site for continual study of the Early Pleistocene for a while, and continual erosion of the cliff face brought the footprints to the surface. However the soft silty stone was just as quickly eroded away destroying the prints.
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    some more details in the following article :

    The million-year-old family? Human footprints found in Britain are the oldest ever seen outside of Africa

    this is basically the status how the footprints became uncovered and how they were destroyed shortly after having been discovered :

    The 50 footprints discovered by the archaeologists and other scientists had been exposed last year at low tide as very heavy seas removed large quantities of beach sand from the site.
    <snip>
    All 50 footprints were found on a small 40 square metre patch of former mud flat which had been buried for hundreds of thousands of years under sand and clay dumped there by Ice Age glaciers.
    <snip>
    Tragically, although a full photogrammetric and photographic record has been made, all but one of the prints were rapidly destroyed by incoming tides before they could be physically lifted.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    The image they present of one of the footprints is rather convincing.
    It even looks familiar, so familiar I am daring to suggest it was not made by Homo antecessor but by Eoanthropus dawsoni instead.
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  14. #13  
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    Flint tools also discovered here were 800,000 years old.
    Happisburgh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    ...when Haze-bruh (that is how it's pronounced - can anyone tell me why?) was connected to the European land mass.
    I went there a few years ago. It is a small place which sits on unstable rocks.

    You need to expert on Norfolk place names. Just about every one is pronounced differently to the way spelt.
    http://www.norfolkdialect.com/villages.htm

    Stifkey (my favourite) is Stukey.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    The image they present of one of the footprints is rather convincing.
    It even looks familiar, so familiar I am daring to suggest it was not made by Homo antecessor but by Eoanthropus dawsoni instead.
    Moderator Warning: Dan, I am sure you think your posts of this type are the soul of wit. Perhaps there are forums where there incessant pitter-patter would be welcome The occasional one here would be nice, but not the near constant stream. Please apply your creativity to more educational posts in future. Thank you.

    Moderator Comment: For those puzzled by this warning, be aware that Eoanthropus dawsoni, is Piltdown Man, a major hoax. Confusing members is not a goal of the forum. Dan should know better,
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  16. #15  
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    At least I actually read their paper before commenting on it.
    PLOS ONE: Hominin Footprints from Early Pleistocene Deposits at Happisburgh, UK


    Chris Stringer believes in a Late out of Africa theory and also in the idea we developed as wading apes moving around coastlines.
    He may be correct, or he might not be.
    Neither of these ideas are really well accepted by other authorities and Chris Stringer would not be the first researcher to suffer from confirmation bias while looking for evidence to support his favourite theory.
    To accept this article uncritically would be doing a disservice to science and would show a lack of respect to the scientific community at large.

    edit:
    I am not the only one to express doubts about the paper. Somebody else posted a comment about how underwelming the evidence was on the plos page.

    Also I was not attempting to confuse anybody. I do admit to being a bit sarcastic.
    I fully expected anybody who didn't know what Eoanthropus dawsoni was to at least be wise enough to Google it.
    You don't seem to have been confused by it, but if you were confused I apologise for confusing you.
    Last edited by dan hunter; February 9th, 2014 at 08:13 PM. Reason: spelling
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    I fully expected anybody who didn't know what Eonthropus dawsoni was to at least be wise enough to Google it.
    You don't seem to have been confused by it, but if you were confused I apologise for confusing you.
    Of course I wasn't confused by it. I have studied the evolution of hominds in moderate detail. The majority of our members have not. It behoves those of us with an education in a specific area to explain in simple terms so those who lack expertise on that topic may enhance their knowledge. As I noted in my warning, irony and some sarcasm are not unwelcome, but we've already had a number of complaints from other members about the tenor of several of your posts. Please make more like your last one - which is informative and balanced - and everyone can benefit.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Flint tools also discovered here were 800,000 years old.
    Happisburgh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    ...when Haze-bruh (that is how it's pronounced - can anyone tell me why?) was connected to the European land mass.
    I went there a few years ago. It is a small place which sits on unstable rocks.

    You need to expert on Norfolk place names. Just about every one is pronounced differently to the way spelt.
    Pronouncing Norfolk Placenames; differently to spelled

    Stifkey (my favourite) is Stukey.
    Yes in the UK there is a venerable (and tiresome) tradition of wrong-footing people by unintuitive pronunciation of names. You might enjoy this: Monty Python's Flying Circus - Raymond Luxury Yacht - YouTube

    Some of it started with the Normans but the Celts added an extra dimension e.g. Milngavie pronounced Mulguy, Dun Laoghaire pronounced Dun Leary, Tighnabruaich pronounced , er, God alone knows how.
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  19. #18  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Tighnabruaich pronounced , er, God alone knows how.
    Tin-A- Brew-Uch. It lies on the opposite side of the Kyles of Bute from my home island of Bute, a distance of less than a kilometre.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Tighnabruaich pronounced , er, God alone knows how.
    Tin-A- Brew-Uch. It lies on the opposite side of the Kyles of Bute from my home island of Bute, a distance of less than a kilometre.
    Fancy that! My childhood holidays were spent with my grandparents at Kilcreggan, between Loch Long and the Gare Loch. We could see Bute down the Firth and on clear days Arran behind. My birthday treat was a trip to Dunoon on PS Waverley and climb Bishop's Seat. On occasion we would visit Rothesay. Happy days…..
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    It's an interesting article, but the part about the foot prints being washed away is perplexing. After 800,000 years? All sorts of extreme weather, waves, ice, snow, changing water levels? trees washing up, other animals wandering past? They're that delicate?
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    There are, presumably, very many other cases where similar things have been exposed and then destroyed within hours, days, months, ... without anyone spotting them.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    It's an interesting article, but the part about the foot prints being washed away is perplexing. After 800,000 years? All sorts of extreme weather, waves, ice, snow, changing water levels? trees washing up, other animals wandering past? They're that delicate?
    As I already noted for Harold: The area has been the site for continual study of the Early Pleistocene for a while, and continual erosion of the cliff face brought the footprints to the surface. However the soft silty stone was just as quickly eroded away destroying the prints.

    Fossils in general are much more delicate then most people think they are, and when they become exposed to the elements, their life span is in the days at most a lot of times.
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    Shame they couldn't save them. So they couldn't borrow an excavator and dug them up? lol..

    I guess the footprints were mud and of course is soft in form. so they don't have the same.
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