PLOS ONE2014-02-24 5:25 PM

地处英国Happisburgh市更新世早期沉积中的人类足迹 Hominin Footprints from Early Pleistocene Deposits at Happisburgh, UK 

对英国Happisburgh市的调查揭示了大约在公元前100万年至78万年间除非洲外已知最古老的古人类足迹表面。该遗址一直以来就被认为是更新世早期动植物沉积物的蕴藏地,但自2005年以来该遗址的古人类人工燧石制品成为了新焦点,这将人类北欧居住的历史记载推前了至少35万年。大河河口上游的砂,砾石和层压淤泥形成了沉积物。大片叠层沉积物领域于2013年5月暴露在河滩上。在其中一个层叠淤泥区域的表面,一连串坑洞暴露在大约12平方米区域中。我们使用多图像摄影记录了该坑洞表面,坑洞表现明显拉长的特征,并且大多数符合少年到成年古人类脚尺寸范围。许多案例中的脚足弓和前后部分可以被识别,且在一个案例中,我们可以看到脚趾的印记。使用脚长与身形比率,古人类估计已具有大约在0.93至1.73 米范围的身高,这表明是由不同年龄组成的古人类群体。足迹方向表示了沿河泥滩朝南前行的活动。更新世早期人类化石在欧洲极为罕见,从未发现来自英国的证据。在西欧唯一已知相仿年龄的物种是智人祖先,它的化石遗骸已在西班牙阿塔普尔卡被发现。Happisburgh地发现的脚尺寸和估计的古人类身形与源自智人祖先的化石证据相近。

Investigations at Happisburgh, UK, have revealed the oldest known hominin footprint surface outside Africa at between ca. 1 million and 0.78 million years ago. The site has long been recognised for the preservation of sediments containing Early Pleistocene fauna and flora, but since 2005 has also yielded humanly made flint artefacts, extending the record of human occupation of northern Europe by at least 350,000 years. The sediments consist of sands, gravels and laminated silts laid down by a large river within the upper reaches of its estuary. In May 2013 extensive areas of the laminated sediments were exposed on the foreshore. On the surface of one of the laminated silt horizons a series of hollows was revealed in an area of ca. 12 m2. The surface was recorded using multi-image photogrammetry which showed that the hollows are distinctly elongated and the majority fall within the range of juvenile to adult hominin foot sizes. In many cases the arch and front/back of the foot can be identified and in one case the impression of toes can be seen. Using foot length to stature ratios, the hominins are estimated to have been between ca. 0.93 and 1.73 m in height, suggestive of a group of mixed ages. The orientation of the prints indicates movement in a southerly direction on mud-flats along the river edge. Early Pleistocene human fossils are extremely rare in Europe, with no evidence from the UK. The only known species in western Europe of a similar age is Homo antecessor, whose fossil remains have been found at Atapuerca, Spain. The foot sizes and estimated stature of the hominins from Happisburgh fall within the range derived from the fossil evidence of Homo antecessor. 






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