Some 100,000 years ago, an extended family of 36 Neanderthals walked along a beach, with the kids jumping and frolicking in the sand, scientists report after analyzing the beachgoers’ fossilized footprints in what is now southern Spain. “We have found some areas where several small footprints appeared grouped in a chaotic arrangement,” said Eduardo Mayoral, a paleontologist at the University of Huelva and lead author of the study, which was published online March 11 in the journal Scientific Reports . The footprints “could indicate an area of passage of very young individuals, as if they were playing or loitering on the shore of the nearby waterlogged area,” Mayoral told Live Science in an email. Related: See photos of our closest human ancestor In June 2020, two biologists discovered the tracks on Matalascañas beach, in Doñana National Park, after a period of intense storms and high tides. The biologists first saw fossilized animal tracks; some of the footprints were made long ago by large animals, like deer or wild boars, Mayoral said. Only later, after Mayoral’s team analyzed the prints, did anyone realize that some were Neanderthal footprints, he said. “Nobody recognized the existence of the hominid footprints at that time,… Read full this story
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