Expert trackers have been in a position to establish the species depicted in round 400 animal footprints carved on rocks in Namibia in the course of the Stone Age. In most circumstances, they have been additionally in a position to establish the animal’s intercourse, the precise leg that made the print and whether or not the animal was an grownup or not.
Numerous rock engravings regarded as as much as 5000 years outdated have been present in websites round an space referred to as Twyfelfontein in north-west Namibia. Many depict animal or human footprints, so Andreas Pastoors on the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany requested three trackers from Namibia, Tsamgao Ciqae, /Ui Kxunta and Thui Thao, to assist his crew examine them. The three normally work for business hunters.
The trio recognized the engraved animal tracks as depicting greater than 40 species, starting from rhinos and giraffes to aardvarks and porcupines. Around 60 of the tracks are these of birds, such because the secretary chook and the marabou stork.
Most species depicted are nonetheless discovered within the space, however some – together with blue wildebeest, buffalo, bushbucks and vervet monkeys – are discovered solely in areas with extra water, lots of of kilometres away. Pastoors says there isn’t any proof the local weather has modified within the area, so he thinks those that did the engravings should have travelled to the place these animals lived.
The trackers additionally recognized the intercourse depicted in round 100 engraved human footprints on the similar websites, together with whether or not the footprints have been meant to be these of an grownup or little one. The trackers recognized the overwhelming majority as depicting the footprints of kids, with simply 15 out of 106 being attributed to adults and three being unclear.
There isn’t any method to examine if the identifications made by the trackers undoubtedly correspond with what the artists meant to depict. However, to skilled trackers the footprints of animals are simply as distinct and recognisable because the animal itself, says Pastoors. Just as few individuals doubt that historic carvings that appear to be lions actually are of lions, so the trackers are assured of their identifications. “They always work together and make consensus decisions,” says Pastoors.
The crew has thought-about quite a few completely different potentialities for why the carvings of tracks have been made, together with that they have been for educating. But there isn’t any clear proof supporting any of the concepts. “We cannot understand what the depictions were made for, there’s no clue,” says Pastoors.
Similar carved tracks are discovered at many websites around the globe, says Pastoors, who has additionally beforehand enlisted the identical trackers to assist analyse preserved human footprints on the flooring of caves in Europe.