THE FOOTPRINTS OF LAETOLI ~3,6 million years
Laetoli is a site in Tanzania, dated to the Plio-Pleistocene and famous for its hominin footprints, preserved in volcanic ash (Site G). The site of the Laetoli footprints is located 45 km south of Olduvai gorge. Professor Terry Harrison, a physical anthropologist at New York University, has continued research at the site since the late 1990s.
The footprint-bearing layers are Pliocene in age, dated by the K/Ar method to 3.6 million years ago.
A line of hominid fossil footprints, discovered in 1976 by Mary Leakey, is preserved in powdery volcanic ash from an eruption of the 20 km distant Sadiman Volcano. Soft rain cemented the ash-layer (15 cm thick) to tuff without destroying the prints. In time, they were covered by other ash deposits. The hominid prints were produced by three individuals, one walking in the footprints of the other, making the original tracks difficult to discover. As the tracks lead in the same direction, they might have been produced by a group -- but there is nothing else to support the common reconstruction of a nuclear family visiting the waterhole together.
The footprints demonstrate that the hominids walked upright habitually, as there are no knuckle-impressions. The feet do not have the mobile big toe of apes; instead, they have an arch (the bending of the sole of the foot) typical of modern humans. The hominids seem to have moved in a leisurely stroll. (click to see all the article on Wikipedia)