Possible hominin footprints from the late Miocene (c. 5.7 Ma) of Crete?

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Gierliński, Gerard D.; Niedźwiedzki, Grzegorz; Lockley, Martin G.; Athanassiou, Athanassios; Fassoulas, Charalampos; Dubicka, Zofia; Boczarowski, Andrzej; Bennett, Matthew R.; Ahlberg, Per Erik
Year of Publication: 2017
Journal: Proceedings of the Geologists' Association
Pagination: -
Publication Language: eng
ISBN Number: 0016-7878
Keywords: Greece, Hominini, Ichnology, Neogene, primate, Trace fossils, Tracks

AbstractWe describe late Miocene tetrapod footprints (tracks) from the Trachilos locality in western Crete (Greece), which show hominin-like characteristics. They occur in an emergent horizon within an otherwise marginal marine succession of Messinian age (latest Miocene), dated to approximately 5.7 Ma (million years), just prior to the Messinian Salinity Crisis. The tracks indicate that the trackmaker lacked claws, and was bipedal, plantigrade, pentadactyl and strongly entaxonic. The impression of the large and non-divergent first digit (hallux) has a narrow neck and bulbous asymmetrical distal pad. The lateral digit impressions become progressively smaller so that the digital region as a whole is strongly asymmetrical. A large, rounded ball impression is associated with the hallux. Morphometric analysis shows the footprints to have outlines that are distinct from modern non-hominin primates and resemble those of hominins. The interpretation of these footprints is potentially controversial. The print morphology suggests that the trackmaker was a basal member of the clade Hominini, but as Crete is some distance outside the known geographical range of pre-Pleistocene hominins we must also entertain the possibility that they represent a hitherto unknown late Miocene primate that convergently evolved human-like foot anatomy.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pgeola.2017.07.006
Short Title: Proceedings of the Geologists' Association