Mysterious Footprints Indicate Neanderthals Climbed a Volcano Right After It Erupted

According to legend, the devil once took a walk down the side of a volcano in southern Italy, each step preserved forever in solid rock.

According to legend, the devil once took a walk down the side of a volcano in southern Italy, each step preserved forever in solid rock.

The tracks are known as the "Ciampate del Diavolo"’ or "Devil’s Trail" – but new details reveal a less diabolical yet far more interesting story on how they came to be.

 

The mysterious footprints are well known to those living near Roccamonfina, an extinct volcano in southern Italy that hasn’t erupted in tens of thousands of years.

Since 2001, researchers have sought an explanation for the dozens of impressions left by a small group of human ancestors and even a few animals snaking their way down the mountainside.

Now a new paper suggests some individuals were actually heading back up.

Over recent years numerous expeditions have provided detailed measurements on a total of 67 indentations left by the scuffle of feet, hands, and legs, all divided across three distinct tracks headed away from the mountain’s summit.

Thanks to the latest contributions by a team of scientists from institutes across Italy, we now have details on a further 14 prints – these ones even larger than the others – some of which head up the mountain rather than down.

Radiometric and geological dating of the various rock strata have already established the imprints were cast in the soft blanket of ash left in the wake of an eruption that took place around 350,000 years ago, making them some of the oldest preserved human footprints on record.

 

But just who left these tracks? It’s impossible to say for certain based on an assortment of…

Access the full article

More Stories
Self-Driving Car Company Lays Off All Its Human Safety Drivers