Hominin tracks in southern Africa: a review and an approach to identification

Helm, Charles W.
Lockley, Martin G.
Cole, Kevin
Noakes, Timothy D.
McCrea, Richard T.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Evolutionary Studies Institute
Three Late Pleistocene hominin tracksites have been reported from coastal aelioanites in South Africa. Two have been dated to 124 ka and 117 ka , and the third is inferred to be 90 ka. There are no other globally reported sites for probable Homo sapiens tracks older than 46 ka. Given this documented record, a search for further hominin tracksites in southern Africa may well yield additional positive results. However, this is a field that demands scientific rigour, as false positive tracksites (pseudotracks) may occur. Criteria have been developed for the identification of fossil vertebrate tracks and hominin tracks, but these are specific neither to southern Africa nor to aeolianites.An important caveat is that the tracks of shod humans would not fulfil these criteria. Preservation of tracks varies with facies and is known to be suboptimal in aeolianites. An analysis of the tracks from the three documented South African sites, along with pseudotracks and tracks of questionable provenance, allows for the proposal and development of guidelines for fossil hominin track identification that are of specific relevance to southern Africa. Such guidelines have broader implications for understanding the constraints that track preservation and substrate have on identifying diagnostic morphological features.
trackways, hominin, Pleistocene, aeolianites, pseudotracks