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Promising Findings in the Danakil

One of the strong characteristics of humans is their unique desire to find new things, through common sense or research. People do not stop until they have discovered new things. Hence, they create a sense of individual environment that result into what we call history and optimism for the future. Many have discovered new findings and proved them on the ground to help the world take its currents steps. Others are still being studied and their secrets will be revealed soon. Hence, a lot of studies related to history, humans and their lives have been conducted and magnificent records have been produced to the homes of their respective environments. Hostile areas where no one expected people ever dwelled, have come out with remains of early humans and other discoveries.


East Africa is claimed to be the land where early humans settled. Eritrea’s location in this region makes it an integral part of this astonishing area of history. Various research teams searched the landmark of Eritrea. Today’s topic reveals the fact about the discovery of the 800,000 year old human footprints and a 1 million year old fossil skull bones in the Buia region, at Semi-arid Danakil Depression, by an international team led by Sapienza University of Rome and the National Museum of Eritrea.

The Eritrean-Italian Danakil Expedition research group has discovered the first footprints which are likely to be of the Homo erectus species of mankind (species of human evolution that evolved into the big brained ancestors of modern people today). The coordinator of the Archeological and anthropological team, Professor Alfredo Coppa stated that the discovery was made certain with the findings of other human fossil records. Other ancient footprints have been discovered in other areas where Homo erectus, Homo habilis and Paranthropus have lived but the team was not exactly certain which of these species the footprints belonged to. However, in this area they have not discovered any records of other hominids that would lead them to a definite conclusion that the findings are that of humans.

The professor further underscored the significance of comparing footprints records to other records. He stated that there are only four sites in Africa with fossils of footprints so old in relation to the thousand other archeological findings found in some other places. He emphasized the value of discovering footprints as they help to study several things such as the weight, balance, the pace and posture of humans and other things. The foot print surface in the Aalad- Amo was found by a local Afar guide, Hussien. The presence of the foot prints for such long time is an exceptional phenomenon as they tend to be altered and eroded very quickly due soft sediments. But their preservation is uniquely important because they can provide a glimpse into a the lives of human individuals in their ecosystem hundreds of thousands years back.

Discovery of human fossils motivates researchers to dig more around the surrounding of areas rather than go home and rest. In the recent mission, not foot prints only but a new skull fragment of Homo.erectus at two different areas of the Mulhuli-Amo site with two teeth and two part of rib bone was found. The research team believes more bones may be soon found. According to the records of the team, to date, the fossils of at least 5 or 6 Homo erectus individuals have now been discovered at the site of Mulhuli- Amo, making it a remarkably rich human origins site.

The Early-Middle Pleistocene is a period of major transition in human evolution, when some of the H.erectus ancestors evolved into species with larger brains and more modern bodies. The Buia fossils have an intriguing blend of primitive and more modern characteristics, which include more primitive H.erectus traits and a larger brain size with a more modern hip structure. The probable H.erectus footprints found as Aalad-Amo were preserved in indurated silt sand sediment that was covered by water erosion. Based on the team’s record around 26 m2 of the sediment bearing the foot prints was exposed while much more of the surface appears to be covered by overlying sediments.

The Professor further explained that fossil sets of footprints are hard to find. Those found in Eritrea which show details of the toes, and the foot shape include a prominent arch and a big toe consistent with the features that human feet were distinctive and efficient walking and running. The study of fossil hominine footprints and tracks has undergone major advances through the improvements in technology, analytical techniques and experiments in footprint formation.

There are also other ten more findings the research team has yet to officially declare whether they are of human fossils or not. The new discovery was in November 2015 where two fossils of humans and animals as well as stone tools were found. These discoveries are recognized as very important in continuing the investigation in the area. A massive number of researches from different Italian universities study the geological, paleontological and pale climatic aspect of the site. Other colleagues on the same site focus on the dating of the findings and other foreign colleagues work on anthropological aspects, the Professor stated.

Research also indicates that footprints preserve evidence about anatomy and behavior that are not found in the bones and teeth that form most of the fossil record. Meanwhile the international team led by Professor Coppa is claiming that the new expedition to Aalad-Amo and other sites in the Buia region of Eritrea promise to uncover new fossils and insights into the biology and behavior of our ancestors at this crucial time in human evolution.

The Eritrean-Italian Expedition team consists of Eritrean and Italian researchers as well as French, Spanish and American colleagues, La Sapienza University coordinates a group of Italian universities that contribute to the newly born Eritrean background on anthropology and archeology.

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