GHOST TRACKS FOOTPRINTS TURN OUT TO BE OLDEST EVIDENCE OF HUMANITY IN THE AMERICAS
I vaguely remember the class in 4th or 5th Grade where I learned about the Bering Straits and how humans first came to colonize North and then South America. It frankly grounded my awareness of humanity’s history, and just how little we continue to know and understand about it. That, of course, continues today. Which makes the recent discovery of the human “ghost tracks” in White Sands National Park, in New Mexico, all the more stunning. We’ve been able to date their origins to roughly 23,000 years ago, which makes these footprints the oldest evidence of humanity’s presence in the Americas, period.
GOST TRACKS FOOTPRINTS ONLY APPEARED WHEN THE NEW MEXICO GROUND WAS WET
So what does this mean? Well, for starters it means that humans made these tracks before the most recent Ice Age. But these “ghost tracks” footprints are not a new awareness. People have known about them for, well, years. We called them ghostly manifestations because the ground they are in is wet at only certain times of the year, when the prints would appear. But as soon as the ground dried out, the footprints would disappear. It was only in 2016 that scientists were able to confirm that these footprints were actually made by humans. This is what I mean by how little we still know and understand about our own history.
THESE FOOTPRINTS WENT UNRECOGNIZED FOR YEARS, CHANGE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF HISTORY
Just recently, we believed that humanity wasn’t present in the Americas until several thousands of years later than these prints. But these ghostly footprints offer even more proof that people were on this side of the world between 21,000-23,000 years ago. So what’s the difference between a few thousand years? Well, a lot of human history, for starters. Culture, politics, religion, agriculture, anything and everything you can think of when it comes to us. And let’s not forget the ironies inherent in this discovery. We knew about these ghost footprints for years and didn’t understand them. Just imagine how much more there is under our noses for us to discover.