Human Footprints Found in New Mexico

When did humans first walk in North America?

Archaeologists used to think that humans first walked through the continents of North and South America when the Ice Age began to end. As the snow caps and glaciers melted, humans started migrating from Africa towards Australia, Europe, Asia, and America. Archaeologists found tools, needles, and spear tips that had been made by Siberian hunters and gatherers who had moved to Alaska. From the age of the tools, they thought that it was almost 13,000 years ago that humans first walked in America… until scientists made a recent, interesting discovery.

Human Footprints New Mexico
Image Credit-National Park Service

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What is the discovery all about?

Fossilized human footprints have been found in the White Sands National Park in New Mexico. What is interesting is that these fossils date back to 23,000 years! This discovery changes the entire perspective scientists had earlier! It means that humans walked in North America much earlier than we had thought. 

What does the discovery mean?

Knowing when human settlement began in a place helps us understand how and when culture, agriculture, and more developed in that place. If humans walked in America as much as 23,000 years ago, this means they existed there during the Ice Age! Even though the White Sands National Park is now covered with chalk-colored dunes, 20,000–30,000 years ago it was grassland with wetter soil. Mammoths, giant sloth bears, and humans walked the muddy shores of shallow lakes. Although the lakes started drying up when the climate changed, the footprints remained. 

Researchers suggested that the dates of these footprints could range from 21,000–23,000 years ago. This supports the idea that humans were present in the southern part of North America before the last glacial peak of the Ice Age. Previously, this prediction had remained an idea without any proof, but now it is a strong standing fact, thanks to this evidence!

Whose footprints are these?

These footprints, discovered in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park, were created by a group of teenagers, youngsters, and a few adults.

Read the information provided about ancient human footprints found in New Mexico and answer the following questions:

  1. How old are the fossils that have been discovered in New Mexico?
  • 13,000 years
  • 30,000 years
  • 23,000 years
  • 20,000 years
Ans: c
  1. Which age do the footprints belong to?
  • Ice Age
  • Bronze Age
  • Stone Age
  • Modern Age
Ans: a
  1. What type of an ecosystem was the White Sands National Park in that age?
  • Frozen land
  • Grasslands
  • Ocean bay
  • Forests
Ans: b
  1. Why is this discovery important?
  • It proves humans lived in North America
  • It proves humans lived in New Mexico
  • It proves humans lived much before 13,000 years and existed during the Ice Age too
  • All of the above are correct
Ans: d

Recommended readers: ages 12-14 (According to Flesch reading scale)

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