Skilled trackers have been in a position to determine the species depicted in round 400 animal footprints carved on rocks in Namibia through the Stone Age. Normally, they had been additionally in a position to determine the animal’s intercourse, the precise leg that made the print and whether or not the animal was an grownup or not.
Quite a few rock engravings regarded as as much as 5000 years previous 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 College of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany requested three trackers from Namibia, Tsamgao Ciqae, /Ui Kxunta and Thui Thao, to assist his group examine them. The three normally work for industrial hunters.
The trio recognized the engraved animal tracks as depicting greater than 40 species, starting from rhinos and giraffes to aardvarks and porcupines. Round 60 of the tracks are these of birds, such because the secretary fowl 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 had been meant to be these of an grownup or baby. The trackers recognized the overwhelming majority as depicting the footprints of youngsters, with simply 15 out of 106 being attributed to adults and three being unclear.
There is no such thing as a approach to verify if the identifications made by the trackers positively correspond with what the artists meant to depict. Nonetheless, to skilled trackers the footprints of animals are simply as distinct and recognisable because the animal itself, says Pastoors. Simply as few individuals doubt that historical carvings that appear like lions actually are of lions, so the trackers are assured of their identifications. “They at all times work collectively and make consensus choices,” says Pastoors.
The group has thought of quite a few totally different prospects for why the carvings of tracks had been made, together with that they had been for educating. However there isn’t any clear proof supporting any of the concepts. “We can not perceive what the depictions had been made for, there’s no clue,” says Pastoors.
Comparable carved tracks are discovered at many websites world wide, says Pastoors, who has additionally beforehand enlisted the identical trackers to assist analyse preserved human footprints on the flooring of caves in Europe.