F Rosa Rubicondior: Creationism in Crisis - Human Footprints from a million years before 'Creation Week'

Saturday 25 November 2023

Creationism in Crisis - Human Footprints from a million years before 'Creation Week'

Children in the water one million years ago: human fossil footprints discovered in a prehistoric river in Melka Kunture | Sapienza Università di Roma
About a million years ago hominin children were wading in the Awash River, near what is now Melka Kunture, Ethiopia. Shortly afterwards there was an eruption of a nearby volcano and their tracks in the river mud got covered in volcanic ask, or tuff, preserving a record of their passing, along with the tracks of several other species and freshwater molluscs. These are now the oldest child footprints known.

Like 99.97% of history this was taking place before creationists believe the universe was magicked out of nothing by a magic man made of nothing who said some magic words in a language that no-one spoke because it hadn't made anyone yet, and using as a basis of time, the rotation period of a planet that didn't exist. Creationists, even some adult ones, believe this magic man had earlier self-assembled out of nothing using a design it made before it existed.

Creationists believe this explains reality better than anything science can discover.

These weren't the children of modern humans but the children of an earlier species that walked upright on legs and feet that were almost indistinguishable from those of modern humans, possible Homo erectus, Home ergaster or maybe even Homo heidelbergensis, but until we have more than just footprints there is no way to be sure. All we know is that they were not Homo sapiens, which wasn't around a million years ago.

The volcanic ash buried more than just the footprints; it buried the remains of butchered animals showing the cutmarks of the obsidian tools used to butcher them, the obsidian tools and the flakes made from knapping them to shape the blades.

How these footprints were discovered by a team led by archaeologists from Sapienza University, Rome, is explained in a press release:
Children footprints.

Animal tracks

Mollusc traces
Melka Kunture, 50 km south of Addis Ababa, is an important complex of Pleistocene archaeological sites located along the upper basin of the Awash River, on the Ethiopian plateau. In this area, archaeological research began more than 50 years ago, and since 2011 has been carried out by the Italian mission led by Margherita Mussi and her team of the Department of Ancient World Studies of Sapienza University of Rome.

Dozens of archaeological levels have been identified over the years, found mainly along the gullies cut by the streams of the area. In 2018, in one of these incisions called the Gombore Gully, the Sapienza team had already found numerous human footprints of adults and children, tools made from volcanic stones (such as obsidian and basalt) and remains of hippos butchered by the hominins. These discoveries, sealed by a 700,000-year-old tuff, helped the researchers to reconstruct a scenario in which children assisted adults engaged in knapping stone and butchering large animals, proving that in the prehistoric environment the acquisition of skills and techniques useful for survival began at an early age.

Today, a new study on the archaeological layers of the Gombore Gully, dating back to the end of the Early Pleistocene, offers another rare image of childhood in the most ancient periods of prehistory. The research, coordinated by Flavio Altamura and Margherita Mussi of Sapienza University in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cagliari, Bournemouth University (UK) and the Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP (Germany), focused on another site of the gully, even more ancient, called Gombore II Open Air Museum where new footprints of children were found on the edge of what was a prehistoric river. The results, which shed further light on the behaviours and habits of our distant ancestors, have been published in the scientific journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

The excavations have documented a sequence of archaeological layers about 3 meters thick, which, according to the researchers, probably formed along a river and in marshy environments, cyclically invested by ashes erupted from volcanoes several tens of kilometers away. The volcanic tuffs allowed to date the layers between 1.2 million and 850,000 years ago using the method called Argon/Argon.

The excavations notably brought to light 18 fossil surfaces with footprints left by hippos, hyenas, some herbivores similar to today's wildebeests, gazelles and birds. Three of the levels have also revealed human footprints, almost all attributable to children and adolescents of the prehistoric human species Homo erectus/ergaster or possibly already to an archaic Homo heidelbergensis.

"These footprints - says Margherita Mussi, director of the Archaeological Mission to Melka Kunture - are among the oldest in the world and the earliest ever discovered made by children. Further proof of human presence near the river are the numerous stone tools: some obsidian flakes were probably trampled by hippos, which made them sink into the mud at the bottom of their footprints, indicating the coexistence of man and these dangerous animals."

In many levels, there are also prints formed by curvilinear trails with small almond-shaped hollows, the traces left by bivalve freshwater mussels, which live anchored at the bottom of rivers and lakes with clean and well-oxygenated running waters. This is an excellent indicator to reconstruct the paleo-environment and also allows to indirectly confirm the existence of fish, on which the molluscs depend during their reproductive cycle.

The children's footprints close to the prints of herbivores and molluscs show that the little hominins entered shallow and clean waters, as did the other animals. "Probably, even a million years ago" - says Flavio Altamura, who carried out the excavations - "the Pleistocene children entered the water for reasons very similar to those of modern children: to drink, to wash themselves or to try to catch fish and molluscs with their bare hands. Or more simply to play."

"This research, – Mussi concludes – carried out thanks to funding by Sapienza University and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provides a snapshot of Pleistocene childhood and confirms that the children's attraction to watery environments and ponds - puddles included! – is deeply rooted in human behaviour. This is, in a way, the first scientific evidence of "bathing" children."
The age of the volcanic tuff was determined by the argon/argon method:
What is the Argon/Argon method for dating volcanic tuff and what are possible sources of error? The Argon-Argon (Ar-Ar) dating method is a radiometric dating technique used to determine the age of rocks, especially volcanic rocks and minerals. It is a refinement of the more widely known potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating method. Both methods are based on the radioactive decay of potassium-40 (40K) to argon-40 (40Ar) in minerals. Here's a brief overview of the Ar-Ar dating method and some potential sources of error:
  1. Principle of the Method:
    • The Ar-Ar dating method involves irradiating a sample of the mineral or rock with neutrons in a nuclear reactor.
    • This irradiation converts a portion of the stable isotope potassium-39 (39K) into 39Ar.
    • After irradiation, the sample is heated, releasing argon isotopes, including 40Ar, from the mineral lattice.
    • The released argon is then measured using a mass spectrometer to determine the ratio of 40Ar to 39Ar, which allows the calculation of the age of the sample.
  2. Calculation of Age:
    • The age is calculated using the equation derived from the principles of radioactive decay and isochron plots.
    • The presence of 39Ar in the sample is crucial for the precision of the method, as it helps correct for any argon loss during the heating process.
  3. Sources of Error:
    • Argon Loss: If the rock or mineral has experienced partial argon loss due to metamorphism or other processes, the calculated age may be too young.
    • Excess Argon: Presence of excess argon, which was not produced by in situ decay, can lead to an overestimation of the age.
    • Inherited Argon: Some minerals may contain argon inherited from their formation, which can affect age calculations.
    • K-Ar System Resetting: If the rock has undergone significant thermal events, the K-Ar system may have been reset, leading to inaccurate age determinations.
    • Neutron Fluence: The accuracy of the method depends on the precise knowledge of the neutron fluence during irradiation.
  4. Advantages:
    • Ar-Ar dating can provide more accurate and precise age determinations compared to the conventional K-Ar method.
    • It is particularly useful for dating volcanic rocks and minerals with complex thermal histories.
  5. Applications:
    • Ar-Ar dating is widely used in geochronology, especially for dating volcanic tuffs, lavas, and other igneous rocks.
It's important to note that careful sample selection and analysis are critical to obtaining reliable results. Researchers must consider potential sources of contamination and thoroughly understand the geological history of the samples being dated. Additionally, advances in analytical techniques and calibration methods continue to improve the accuracy of Ar-Ar dating.
The team's findings are published in Quaternary Science Reviews:

New ichnological data are available at the prehistoric site of Melka Kunture, Upper Awash Valley in Ethiopia. Excavation of new test pits enabled us to explore the volcanic and fluvio-lacustrine sequence at the Gombore II Open Air Museum archaeological site (ca. 0.85 Ma). This has allowed a detailed reconstruction of the palaeoenvironment and of the fauna present in the time interval between 1.2 and 0.85 Ma. Various-sized mammals, birds, molluscs as well as hominins left tracks throughout the sequence, and document a varied fauna and associated behaviours. Most of the hominin tracks were made by young individuals on the basis of size and are some of the earlier child tracks to be reported. The mollusc traces document the presence and orientation of water streams which, according to the associated vertebrate traces, were visited by hominins, mammals and birds. Most of these traces were found within levels traditionally considered barren for archaeology, yet they all document life activity and are always in situ. This confirms the potential of the ichnological research as an important complementary tool for archaeological investigations.

Graphical Abstract
And so, the casual refutation of the childish fairytale of magic creation by science continues on its inevitable course, showing with every pertinent discovery that the vast majority of Earth's history and the slow evolution of species such as Homo sapiens all happened in that vast expanse of time before 'Creation Week'.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Obscene, threatening or obnoxious messages, preaching, abuse and spam will be removed, as will anything by known Internet trolls and stalkers, by known sock-puppet accounts and anything not connected with the post,

A claim made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Remember: your opinion is not an established fact unless corroborated.

Web Analytics