The Discovery of the Oldest Human Footprints in North America Thrilled Researchers. It Turns Out They May Not Be So Old

A collaborative group of American researchers has refuted previous claims that footprints found in 2009 in the Lake Otero Basin in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park are the oldest in North America – said to be from the last Ice Age. The group’s latest work appeared recently in Quaternary Research.

Last September, researchers from the US Geological Survey radiocarbon dated Ruppia cirrhosa permanent crops on all the seats. Their results show that the footprints were left between 22,800 to 21,130 years ago. In the past, the most famous people in North America were between 14,000 and 16,000 years ago. If it is possible, the steering wheel can confuse all the ideas in the field.

The team published their findings in Science last year. “This is a bombshell,” said Ruth Gruhn, an archaeologist not involved in the investigation. “It’s very difficult to argue.”

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Charles Oviatt, a geologist at Kansas State University who helped refute the claims, said Heritage Daily this week that he read the original Science said, “and at first he was impressed, not only by how big his feet were, but also by the importance of having the right relationship.”

Radiocarbon dating of ancient grass seeds found in the footprints confirmed that they were made 23,000 years ago.  Photo by David Bustos, courtesy of White Sands National Park, New Mexico.

Radiocarbon dating of ancient grass seeds found in the footprints confirmed that they were made 23,000 years ago. Photo by David Bustos, courtesy of White Sands National Park, New Mexico.

Last year, researchers acknowledged the possible disruption caused by the “water reservoir”. Underwater plants like Ruppia cirrhosaUnderwater grass can look very old because it photosynthesizes from water, which usually contains old carbon, rather than from the air, which would give it a modern look.

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Oviatt joined three colleagues from DRI, the University of Nevada, and Oregon State University in planning the experiment. Ruppia cirrhosa specimens deposited at the University of New Mexico herbarium. They were collected alive from a spring-fed pond around 1947.

Beta Analytic a leading commercial radiocarbon lab performed dating on the archived samples. The result was that the plants were 7,400 years old, “destroyed by the use of ancient groundwater by the plants,” Heritage Daily he realized. If the results are off by 7,400 years, then there is a chance that the White Sands footprints will match the existing records.

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“While researchers are recognizing the problem, they are ignoring plant life,” Rhode said. “Mostly, it uses the oxygen it gets from the sea water. And in many cases, that means they’re taking in air from sources other than today’s atmosphere—often very ancient sources.

They are all scientific methods that work. “The original investigators worked hard to confirm what they were saying and I’m told they’re still working on it,” Rhode told Artnet News. “They have publicly recognized the need for this kind of concrete evidence to satisfy the public. It is here and we will continue to do more work on it.”

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