Skip to main content


The Earliest Human Footprints


Richmond and colleagues from Kenya, South Africa, UK, and the US discovered the second-oldest footprints of our early ancestors in 1.5 million year-old sediments in northwestern Kenya. They used state-of-the-art laser scanning technology to digitally record the prints, and applied advanced 3D shape analysis (geometric morphometrics) and statistical methods to show that these footprints represent the oldest definitive evidence of a modern style of walking in early human ancestors, most likely early Homo erectus. This study combined biomechanics, geology, and paleontology and was published in Science (2009, Vol 323: 1197-1201, and featured as the cover article along with a Perspective in Science (2009, Vol 323: 1174-1175).

Address Goals

It was genuinely new discovery, and the wide publicity it received meant that it reached a wide national and international audience.