More than 80 human footprints dating back around 100,000 years have been located on the north coast of Morocco and, according to researchers, they are the oldest ever seen in North Africa and the southern Mediterranean.
The footprints of Homo sapiens are from at least five individuals, including children. The marks are in Larache, 90 km south of the city of Tangier.
Although they were revealed this Monday (6) to AFP, they were discovered in 2022 by a team of Moroccan, French, Spanish and German researchers.
“This group of individuals crossed the beach towards the sea, probably in search of food and sea shells, and were probably fishermen and collectors,” Anass Sedrati, conservator of the Lixus-Larache archaeological site, told AFP.
According to the scientists, whose study was published in the journal Nature in January, it is one of the best preserved human footprint sites in the world and the oldest in North Africa and the southern Mediterranean.
“This discovery occurred during a land survey mission in July 2022, as part of a scientific research project on the origin and dynamics of rock formations found on the coast,” indicated the researchers, led by the French university Bretagne Sud.
In 2017, remains of Homo sapiens 300,000 years old, according to the researchers, were discovered in another location north of Morocco, increasing the estimate of the origin of our species by 100,000 years.
According to Sedrati, there were also animal footprints in the area.
“It is necessary to preserve this remarkable heritage site, threatened by rising sea levels and storms,” said Muncef Sedrati, responsible for the research project.
One of the researchers said that more footprints should be located as the sediments erode, which could help to obtain more details about the group of Homo sapiens who walked or lived in the region.