Early human footprints discovered in Norfolk

Scientists have found the earliest human footprints outside of Africa in Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast.


The 800,000 year old footprints are evidence of the earliest Northern European humans.

Dr Nick Ashton of the British Museum has described the footprints as: “One of the most important discoveries, if not the most important discovery that has been made on [Britain’s] shores.”

Dr Ashton further stressed the importance of the findings on human history, saying: “It will rewrite our understanding of the early human occupation of Britain and indeed of Europe.”

Dr Ashton, recalling the discovery, stated that he and a colleague found hollows on the beach which clearly resembled human footprints.

Soon after the discovery the footprints were washed away by rain and waves, but Dr Ashton and his team were able to capture them on video. The film will be shown at the Natural History Museum later this month.

The 3D scans taken of the footprints enabled Dr Isabelle De Groote of Liverpool John Moores University to confirm that the footprints belonged to five people: one adult and four children.

Professor Chris Stringer, Merit Researcher at the Natural History Museum, also commented on the finding: “This discovery gives us even more concrete evidence that there were people there. We can now start to look at a group of people and their everyday activities. If we keep looking, we will find even more evidence of them, hopefully even human fossils. That would be my dream.”

The findings have been published in the science journal Plos One.


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October 2021
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