Science and Technology

Oldest known human footprints in North America discovered at White Sands

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — New research conducted at White Sands National Park has uncovered the oldest known human footprints in North America.

White Sands officials said the discovery reveals evidence of human occupation in the Tularosa Basin beginning at least 23,000 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

“These incredible discoveries illustrate that White Sands National Park is not only a world-class destination for recreation but is also a wonderful scientific laboratory that has yielded groundbreaking, fundamental research,” Superintendent Marie Sauter said.

The fossilized human footprints were buried in multiple layers of gypsum soil on a large playa in White Sands National Park. The seeds embedded in the footprints were radiocarbon dated and analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey to figure out how old they were.

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