Footprints of the past

Hear how scientists have uncovered the fossilised footprints of ancient human ancestors from 3.66 million years ago...
26 January 2017
Presented by Chris Smith
Production by Chris Smith.


Fossil footprints from Laetoli


Unravelling the 6-million-year-long story of where we came from is a tricky business because palaeontologists have to rely on scarce, precious fossil remains that are hard to access and even harder to find in the first place. And there’s a limit to what pieces of bone and teeth can reveal about our ancestors.

But, occasionally, serendipity affords us a special glimpse into our past like it did in Laetoli, Tanzania, where a nearby erupting volcano captured the footsteps millions of years ago of a group of Australopithecines.

In episode 34 of the eLife Podcast we heard from University of Perugia scientist Marco Cherin who’s recently uncovered more of these fossilised footprints and made some even more surprising discoveries about our ancient relatives. In this special podcast he takes Chris Smith through the whole story...


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