And Did Those Feet, In Ancient Times…

There’s an interesting little item in the news today: paleoanthropologists have found Homo Erectus footprints 1.5 million years old that record the earliest known example of anatomically modern human feet — feet that are designed solely (so to speak) for walking, and not for grasping.

It is hard to imagine anything more evanescent than a footprint left in the mud, yet these have lasted 150 times as long as the entire span of recorded history. Think of all the forgotten generations that have lived and died and turned to dust, and more recently the empires that have risen, triumphed and fallen, while those fragile impressions — nothing at all, really, just some wet feet on a rainy day — slumbered in the stone. It must be an eerie feeling to walk in them.

You can read a brief account here, or watch a truly riveting video here.

Meanwhile, new analytical tools are making it possible for linguists to identify the oldest words still in use, and to make predictions about which ones will last. Learn more here.

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7 Comments

  1. JK says

    I didn’t have the “guts” to question it, (not knowing if Mr. Holder might call my “mentioning such things” into “question” or not – but isn’t the Earth only as old as that Catholic guy said it is, I’ve not my calculator handy but 6500 and something years old or something?

    I mean, how could “modern toes” be running around so long ago? Has our learning adapted that much?

    Posted February 27, 2009 at 2:44 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    I think the actual age of the Earth is more like 6012 years and five months, JK. Get your facts straight, man.

    Posted February 27, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  3. JK says

    Well I’ll be damned, “Google” advises me you’re right on the $. I guess I was sleepy in church that day.

    Posted February 27, 2009 at 11:27 am | Permalink
  4. Eric says

    Um – Archbishop Ussher was _Anglican_, not Catholic. Keep your anti-religious bigotry straight, man.

    Posted February 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Right! That too.

    Really, JK… not only were you not paying attention, you were in the wrong building!

    Posted February 27, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Just to be clear, though, Eric, that isn’t bigotry: it’s scornful derision, and well-earned.

    Posted February 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Permalink
  7. JK says

    Well, I asked Mom about why I got confused. She explained that I had both arms in casts and so couldn’t tell my left from my right. But I’d simply ask, weren’t the Anglicans direct descendants of the Catholics? Just a simple matter of a divorce or two?

    And, with a nod to Mr. Holder, I don’t think an Anglican was the inventor of Rap anyway.

    Posted February 28, 2009 at 7:17 am | Permalink