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Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Discovery of aboriginal runner's dash and children's wanderings, pressed in ancient Australian mud, are called 'the nearest we've got to prehistoric film'.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA -- Children meandered around their parents anckles. A man likely a hunter, dashed through the mud. Somebody dragged a dead animal along the shores of the lake.

Now the footprints they left some 20.000 years ago are giving a fresh perspective on the lives of Australian aborogines.

Since an aboriginal park ranger stumbled upon the first grint in 2003 in Mungo National Park, 800 miles west of Sydney, archeologists helped by local aborigines have excavated 457 other prints from the region's shifting sands.

"This is the nearest we've got to prehistoric film where you can see someone's heel slip in the mud as they're running fast," Steve Webb, a professor of Australian studies at Queensland state's Bond University, said thursday.

"It brings that element of life that other archeological remains can't", added Webb, who leads a team that is tracing the ancient prints.

The New South Wales state government, which has helped fund the research, revealed the footprints existence Thursday ahead of a report on the find to be published early next year in the Journal of Human Evolution.

When the tracks were laid between 19,000 and 23,000 years ago at the height of the last Ice Age in swampland near the shores of Willandra Lakes, the habitat was a lush oasis in Australia's arid interior. The lake system dried up 14,000 years ago.

Webb and his team believe one set of prints was left by a 6 foor 6 hunter who spinted at almost 19 mph across silty clay toward an unknown prey, mud squeezing between his bare toes.

Some tracks reveal unknown game being dragges across mud. Emu and kangaroo tracks also were found in the area.

The rpints were laid in wet clay containing calcium carboante that hardened like concrete when it dried. They eventually were covered by a protective clay crust and sand before being exposed by wind erosion at the remote national park.

"We know they were hunting something, probably water birds. We've got men running very fast", Webb said.

"They're wonderful prints so lielike. We've hardly scratched the surface."

(Source: Associated Press by: Rod McGuirk)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:42 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
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About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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