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Science. 2009 Feb 27;323(5918):1197-201. doi: 10.1126/science.1168132.

Early hominin foot morphology based on 1.5-million-year-old footprints from Ileret, Kenya.

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School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, Poole, BH12 5BB, UK.


Hominin footprints offer evidence about gait and foot shape, but their scarcity, combined with an inadequate hominin fossil record, hampers research on the evolution of the human gait. Here, we report hominin footprints in two sedimentary layers dated at 1.51 to 1.53 million years ago (Ma) at Ileret, Kenya, providing the oldest evidence of an essentially modern human-like foot anatomy, with a relatively adducted hallux, medial longitudinal arch, and medial weight transfer before push-off. The size of the Ileret footprints is consistent with stature and body mass estimates for Homo ergaster/erectus, and these prints are also morphologically distinct from the 3.75-million-year-old footprints at Laetoli, Tanzania. The Ileret prints show that by 1.5 Ma, hominins had evolved an essentially modern human foot function and style of bipedal locomotion.

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