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Human Footprints Dating Back to Over 2,00,000 Years Discovered on Tibetan Plateau

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The immobile art consists of hand and footprints on the surface of a rock found in the Quesang region of the Tibetan Plateau. The group of scientists studied the prints, which are speculated to be 1,69,000 to 2,26,000 years old.

A new study has found the oldest known examples of immobile art on the surface of a rock in Tibet. The research published in Science Bulletin last week included a team of scientists from Guangzhou University in China, and Bournemouth University in the UK. The immobile art consists of hand and footprints on the surface of a rock found in the Quesang region of the Tibetan Plateau. The group of scientists studied the prints, which are speculated to be 1,69,000 to 2,26,000 years old. The age of the rock shows that the hand and footprints were created during the middle of the Ice Age, mentioned the researchers. There are a total of five handprints and five footprints discovered in the region which have been preserved in freshwater limestone deposited around a hot spring known as travertine, mentions the study. Judging by the size and height of the prints, the group of 18 scientists speculate that they were carefully placed by children around the age of seven to 12.

Matthew Bennett, Professor of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at Bournemouth University who was part of the research said in a statement that the prints were not left by normal walking and seem to have been deliberately left in what could be the “earliest ever example of immobile, or parietal, art that we’ve found to date.” Bennett further mentioned that one could just imagine these ancient children playing in the mud by a hot spring, placing their hands and feet carefully, just like a child might do in cement today. Their hand and footprints have been preserved since then for over thousands of years for the scientists to find, siad Bennett. The mud-like clay hardened and turned to travertine, which has kept the playful hand and footprints frozen in time, mentioned the statement.

Another researcher who was part of the study was Sally Reynolds, principal academic and hominin palaeoecologist at Bournemouth University described the discovery as an “incredible find” especially because of its location. Reynolds said that when one considers the altitude of the site on the Plateau, it shows how cold the climate would have been and also how the oxygen would have been scarce. The findings also provide a glimpse of how people used to lived and interact many years ago and is a “wonderful example of children at play.”

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first published:September 16, 2021, 16:49 IST