According to Urban, teenage and child footprints outweigh those made by adults, possibly owing to their involvement in activities such as gardening rather than skilled tasks like hunting.New research into the ancient footprints at White Sands National Park establishes they are the earliest-known evidence of humans in North America.

Researchers are now able to confirm the footprints at White Sands National Park as the oldest-known proof of humans in North America. NPS, USGS and Bournemouth University

“Their presence is simply a part of everyday existence that should be anticipated,” he added. Their activities may have included anything from playing to chores such as foraging food, water, and raw materials for their hunter-gatherer society.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the precise time at which ancient human footprints were formed, Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce, a geologist at Appalachian State University in North Carolina who has studied similar footprints in Tanzania and was not involved with the White Sands study, said.

“It’s fantastic to see that this team was able to limit the date of the footprint formation using radiocarbon dates from the layers above and below,” she added.

Footprints have turned out to be fascinating in their own right and may provide important information about the track-makers. Unlike bones or artifacts, footprints are one-of-a-kind since they preserved fossilized behavior, and their analysis can provide insights into the print maker.

“Human footprints provide insight into the past lives of our ancestors and, in this instance, reveal a wealth of information on their daily routines and interpersonal interactions.” said Liutkus-Pierce.