Footprints in the sand and fossil humans in China

16 Mar 2012

At ... animal and human fossil footprints found in peat and covered by sand at Borth beach in Ceredigion have been dated between four and three thousand years ago. A line of post holes has also been spotted and a well known submerged forest lies close by - indicating the coastline at this point was further out in Cardigan Bay at the time the fossil footprints were laid down. They emerged as a result of shifting sand on the beach and the sand is expected to recover them in the weeks ahead. The forest itself has previously  been dated between 3000 and 2500BC and the area became waterlogged for a long time, hence the growth of peat - so the footprints might be somewhat younger. The animal footprints are mainly of cattle and sheep, indicating a farm, and again indicating a Neolithic date or later.

At and ... fossil humans from two caves in SW China are getting anthropologists excited - a new species of archaic human is the meme, although it appears to display archaic and modern human traits. The big surprise is the date - between 14500 and 11000 years ago (the warm period between the end of the Ice Age and the Younger Dryas, overlapping the latter). They appear to have been hunters of red deer. What has got anthropologists excited is the fact no evidence of archaic humans is known from China from 100,000 years ago - yet now they have evidence they must have been somewhere in the vicinity. Modern humans are known in the Holocene period and presumably they were around at the same time as this new group of people. It is surprising how 'no knowledge' had become 'firm knowledge' but there you are - China has been largely ignored. Until now. Attention, it seems, has centred around Europe (home of the science) and Africa (assumed home of modern humans) and already the evidence is being slewed to keep the consensus on track. It will be interesting to look at how this develops over the next few months.