20,000 BC Mungo lake runners

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Lake Mungo shows some very interesting fossils? bones of "Mungo Man" from 20 to 30 thousand years ago,that show features of a more primative man. Rex Gilroy in Mysterious Australia shows evidence of ancient huge stone tools and explores stories of aboriginal verbal stories of huge savage beast men that inhabited Melville Island.
 

KeyserXSoze

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Revealed: the runners of 20,000BC
By Deborah Smith Science Editor
December 22, 2005

HUNDREDS of human footprints dating back to about 20,000BC - the oldest in Australia and the largest collection of its kind in the world - have been discovered in Mungo National Park in western NSW.

They were left by children, adolescents and adults at the height of the last ice age as they ran and walked across a moist clay area near the Willandra Lakes.

Some people appear to have been hunting, with one very tall man sprinting at about 20kmh.

The first footprint was spotted by Mary Pappin Junior, of the Mutthi Mutthi people, two years ago and more than 450 more have been uncovered by a team led by Steve Webb of Bond University.

Professor Webb said the find provided a unique glimpse into the lives of those who lived in the arid inland. "It brings these people to life in a way no other archaeological evidence can. You can see how the mud squelched between their toes."

The traditional custodians of the area, members of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area Three Traditional Tribal Groups Elders Corporation, said they were very excited by the find.

Ms Pappin, a Mutthi Mutthi elder, said walking alongside the footprints was like "walking with a family group today. They're the same people".

She believed the prints had been revealed from under the sand dunes "to let the rest of the world know how clever our people really were, living and surviving in their environment".

Roy Kennedy, a Ngiyampaa elder, said the area had been a special meeting place for his tribe since the Dreamtime. "It was an oasis in the desert."

About 20,000 years ago the now dry lakes would have contained fish, mussels and crayfish.

The team estimated the height of the people from their foot size, and their speed from the distance between paces. Professor Webb has also recently excavated two 17,000-year-old skeletal remains found about six kilometres away. "They were athletic and very strong and fit. I assume some of the men on this site were very similar," he said.

Dave Johnston, chairman of the elders corporation, said the site was closed to the public to preserve it, and the elders were developing a management, conservation and tourism plan.

The team, including Matthew Cupper of the University of Melbourne and Richard Robins of the University of New England, have published results on 124 footprints online ahead of print publication in the Journal of Human Evolution.

FEET OF HISTORY

* 457 footprints, made by adults and children, found in Mungo National Park.


* Footprints 19,000-23,000 years old.

* Laid down in wet clay containing calcium carbonate that hardened like concrete, then covered in a layer of protective clay and sand.

* Prints between 13cm and 30cm (size 11) in length.

* One track of a man almost two metres tall running at 20kmh.
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KeyserXSoze

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Update with pic
Footprints Reveal Ancient Outback Life

CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 22, 2005

(AP) Children meandered around their parents' ankles. A man, likely a hunter, dashed through the mud. Somebody dragged a dead animal along the shores of a lake. Now the footprints they left some 20,000 years ago are giving a fresh perspective on the lives of Australian Aborigines.

Since an Aboriginal park ranger stumbled upon the first print in 2003 in Mungo National Park, 500 miles west of Sydney, archaeologists helped by local Aborigines have excavated 457 other prints from the region's shifting sands.

"This is the nearest we've got to prehistoric film where you can see someone's heel slip in the mud as they're running fast," Steve Webb, a professor of Australian studies at Queensland state's Bond University, said Thursday.

"It brings that element of life that other archaeological remains can't," added Webb, who leads a team that is tracing the ancient prints.

The New South Wales state government, which has helped fund the research, revealed the footprints' existence Thursday ahead of a report on the find to be published early next year in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Archaeologist Johan Kamminga, spokesman for the Australian Archaeological Association Inc., said the discovery was "very exciting" as it marked the first time human footprints from the Pleistocene period have been found in Australia.

"All we've had is bones and stones. Here we have footprints _ it's like another dimension of archaeology," said Kamminga, who is not part of the research team.

When the tracks were laid between 19,000 and 23,000 years ago at the height of the last Ice Age in swampland near the shores of Willandra Lakes, the habitat was a lush oasis in Australia's arid interior. The lake system dried up 14,000 years ago.

Webb and his team believe one set of prints was left by a 6-foot-6-inch-tall hunter who sprinted at almost 19 mph across silty clay toward an unknown prey, mud squeezing between his bare toes.

Some tracks reveal unknown game being dragged across mud. Emu and kangaroo tracks are also found in the area.

New South Wales state Environment Minister Bob Debus described the find as "one of the most significant cultural and archaeological discoveries made in Australia in recent times."

"These footprints present us with a moving snapshot of the people who lived during the planet's last Ice Age," Debus said in a statement.

The prints were laid in wet clay containing calcium carbonate that hardened like concrete when it dried. They were eventually covered by a protective clay crust and sand before being exposed recently by wind erosion at the remote national park.

The prints were dated by determining how long quartz sand grains had been buried in sediments above and below them, Webb said.

He estimated that fewer than a third of the prints had been uncovered in the clay pan beneath the dunes.

"We've got 23 track-ways of men running, children walking and wandering around, and I want to find where these tracks go and what these people were doing by following them around," Webb told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

"We know they were hunting something, probably water birds. We've got men running very fast," he said.

"They're wonderful prints _ so lifelike. We've hardly scratched the surface," he added.
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