In “Tanzanian Tracks Show Man’s Early Steps” (AOL News, 2009-09-16 14:01:02), Anne Miller says:
(Sept. 16) – By an African volcano, in an area considered the cradle of humanity, 58 footsteps preserved in volcanic soil may hold secrets to the origin of man.
The footprints, including one track of 18 steps, have been dated back 120,000 years, making them among the oldest ever discovered that were made by modern humans.
[Cynthia Liutkus, an assistant professor of geology at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C] presented some of their findings from the Ngare Sero site in northern Tanzania last month at a conference there.
The feet of a modern man who stood about 6 feet, 2 inches tall matched the largest set of prints perfectly. He had to jog to meet the stride of his ancient counterpart. In all, the footprints range from a modern woman’s size 7 to a modern man’s 13/14 shoe size.
Ultimately, the footprints could reveal a great deal about early people — their height and weight, how they walked, what they carried as they moved. Pobiner specializes in animal fossils and said she will look for their evidence near the tracks.
“It’s going to give us a huge glimpse into the behavior of Homo sapiens at 120,000 years ago,” Liutkus said.
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Update (9-23-09, 9:40 PM): Notice that at least some of our ancestors were 6′ 2″, which provides some evidence against the assertion that we have increased in height through our history. From what I have read, we decreased in height around the time of the advent of agriculture, and have increased in height/stature only recently, with the development of modern culture and medicine (modern, in this context, being measured in 100s of years).