It all happened 100,000 years ago. At that moment, the 36 members of a family of Neanderthals stepped on the sand of a beach. It was what southern Spain is today. Eduardo Mayoral is a paleontologist at the University of Huelva, Andalusia. He and other scientists analyzed these incredible footprints. Footprints of Neanderthals in the sand. The results were published in Live Science.
In June 2020, two biologists discovered the footprints on Matalascañas beach. It’s Doñana National Park. It came after a period of intense storms and floods. At first, the experts saw traces of fossilized animals. Some of them were made by large animals such as deer or wild boar a long time ago.
It wasn’t until two months later that the team examined the find in detail. And they found the footprints of Neanderthal children in the sand. “We found several small footprints that are grouped together in a chaotic arrangement,” explained the paleontologist. «You could indicate a transit area for very young people. As if they were playing or hanging around on the edge of the nearby flooded area.
The researchers believe the surface that is now exposed was covered in water when the Neanderthals left their footprints. “The water would probably not be sweet, but rather brackish. There were sea salt crystals (halite) on the surface where the footprints are located.
The specialists counted a total of 87 footprints. They belong to 36 Neanderthals and date from the time of the Upper Pleistocene (about 106,000 years ago). They would be the oldest Neanderthals in Europe, he reports.
The size and distribution of the indica brands would be done by a group of people who are related to one another. There are a total of 11 footprints from boys or girls and 25 from adults. 5 are female, 14 are male, and 6 are unidentified sexes. Most adults should be between 1.3 and 1.5 meters tall.
However, among them, four footprints should be highlighted, which suggest that the size of their “owners” was much higher. It happened 1.8 meters. However, what the experts are most interested in are the two smallest footprints. They were four inches long which they believe were made by a boy about 6 years old. Possibly the Neanderthal children were playing in the sand near the water, Mayoral said.
The rest of the Marche are on the edge of the flooded area. The people who left the tracks did not fully enter the water. ‘This could include a hunting strategy. It consisted of stalking animals in the water, water birds or small carnivores, ”the study points out.
The site could also provide clues that the Neanderthals were fishing or looking for shellfish. Similar evidence has been found in other ancient sites. The discovery of these traces is “indisputable evidence of the existence of these hominids in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. And especially in Andalusia, ”concluded the expert.