Image: Reconstruction of Laetoli fossil footprints
Reconstruction of a scene that took place in Tanzania, East Africa about 3.6 million years ago. The scene is based on fossil footprints found at the site and includes Australopithecus afarensis as the hominin that most likely made the prints.
- © Australian Museum
The footprints are of major significance as they are the first direct evidence (ie not fossils bones) that our ancestors were walking upright by 3.6 million years ago. The fossil footprints are very similar to our own footprints. They show that the heel was the first part of the foot to strike the ground. The big toe was aligned with the other toes and left a deep impression showing that each step ended with the toe pushing downwards. The feet also had central arches to help launch the body into each step.