Year by year, millimeter by millimeter, human footprints made in Africa at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch are slowly vanishing. The 400 or so footprints, located near a site known as Engare Sero in Northern Tanzania, represent the largest assemblage of ancient human footprints in Africa.

The prints were discovered around 2006 by a native of Engare Sero and brought to the attention of Dr. Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce, professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences and director of the environmental science program at Appalachian State University, in 2008. Her collaborative research on the age and formation of the footprints was featured in National Geographicand The Washington Post. She determined the footprints are between 19,000 and 10,000 years old.

A study published Aug. 21 in Quaternary Science Reviews led by Appalachian researchers Brian Zimmer, Liutkus-Pierce and Dr. Scott Marshall has quantified the erosion at the Engare Sero footprint site using photogrammetry and point cloud comparison algorithms. Zimmer and Marshall are senior lecturer and associate professor, respectively, in Appalachian’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.

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Originally posted August 27, 2018.