Facial reconstruction

Search LJMU Research Online

Browse Repository | Browse E-Theses

Arched footprints preserve the motions of fossil hominin feet

Hatala, KG, Gatesy, SM and Falkingham, PL (2023) Arched footprints preserve the motions of fossil hominin feet. Nature Ecology and Evolution. ISSN 2397-334X

Arched footprints preserve the motions of fossil hominin feet.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (333kB) | Preview


The longitudinal arch of the human foot is viewed as a pivotal adaptation for bipedal walking and running. Fossil footprints from Laetoli, Tanzania, and Ileret, Kenya, are believed to provide direct evidence of longitudinally arched feet in hominins from the Pliocene and Pleistocene, respectively. We studied the dynamics of track formation using biplanar X-ray, three-dimensional animation and discrete element particle simulation. Here, we demonstrate that longitudinally arched footprints are false indicators of foot anatomy; instead they are generated through a specific pattern of foot kinematics that is characteristic of human walking. Analyses of fossil hominin tracks from Laetoli show only partial evidence of this walking style, with a similar heel strike but a different pattern of propulsion. The earliest known evidence for fully modern human-like bipedal kinematics comes from the early Pleistocene Ileret tracks, which were presumably made by members of the genus Homo. This result signals important differences in the foot kinematics recorded at Laetoli and Ileret and underscores an emerging picture of locomotor diversity within the hominin clade.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2023 11:31
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2023 11:31
DOI or ID number: 10.1038/s41559-022-01929-2
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18548
View Item View Item