Are the Enigmatic Tracks Found in Crete Island in Greece Human?

Human feet are specific. We don’t have claws like animals do, we usually step with flat sole on the ground, and all the toes have different size. Unlike the primates, our large toes are in accordance with the long pivot of the foot – they don’t stand out to one side.

Actually, according to some the form of our foot is the determining for belonging in the human species. You can underst our shock when we found fossil footprints with exceptional, human-like features at Trachilos,and Crete, that are 5.7m years old. This study, issued in the Proceedings of the Geologist Association, is provocative because it claims that the first human descendant s could have moved around southern Europe and East Africa.


This period is familiar as the Miocene. The footprints are little traces of somebody moving erect on two legs – all of them are 29. They have dimensions from 94mm to 223mm, and resemble human footprints. They don’t look like primate tracks; the foot is formed more like a human hand.

Their age has been established with the help of a mix of fossilized marine microorganisms named foraminifera and the feature of the resident sedimentary rocks. Foraminifera advance quickly and the age marine sedimentary rocks can be determined correctly with the help of the foraminifera in them. These were dates approximately between 8.5m to 3.5m years. But, just before the Miocene ended, around 5.6m years ago, something remarkable took place: the water of the whole Mediterranean Sea disappeared for a while. This caused a visible mark in the residues of the nearby zones. According to the residues where the footprints were found we can conclude that they likely originate from the period promptly before this event, at around 5.7m years.

Birthplace of mankind

For quite some time the “birthplace of mankind” has been considered to be in Africa, whereas most of the scientist claim that Ethiopia was the cradle the human race. Among the first familiar body fossils that are acknowledged as hominins (individuals from the human heredity) by most scientists are Sahelanthropus tchadensis from Chad (around 7m years old), Orrorin tugenensis from Kenya(around 6m years old) and Ardipithecus kadabba from Ethiopia (around 5.8-5.2m years old).

Laetoli, Tanzania is the place where the oldest footprints were found, and they originate from the following geological period, the Pliocene. They are about 3.66m years old and resemble human footprints even more than the ones of Trachilos. The following oldest footprints are the ones at Ileret from a Homo erectus (1.5m years old), and there is a small difference from the present footprints.

Laetoli footprints
Laetoli footprints. Wolfgang Sauber,

Many people wonder if the footprints of Trachilos were really of an early human forefather, which would mean that the biogeographical scope of our first predecessors would include the eastern Mediterranean as well. Then Crete was not an island but it was connected to Greece, and the Mediterranean area did not resemble the present one.


The discovery appears soon after another research revealed the finding of 7m-year-old Greek and Bulgarian fossil teeth from a hominin primate named “El Graeco”. This is the oldest date fossil of a man-like primate, which has incited some people to claim that man’s evolution started in Europe several millenniums prior the first homosapiens in Africa. Yet, lot of researchers don’t believe that. The existence of Miocene primates in Europe and Africa just proves that the two mainlands are likely birthplaces of the group. Most likely, Trachilos tracks could originate from El Graeco, however it cannot be proved without foot bones.


In any case, there are different approaches to understand the discoveries. According to some the characteristic anatomy of a human-like foot may have advanced more than once. It is possible that the footprints are of an up to this point unidentified Miocene primate that had anatomy and style of movement similar to the one of the present people.

There are cases in the fossil history of so called “convergent evolution” – two different creatures evolving alike anatomical characteristics as adjustments to a specific way of life. In any case, nothing about the Trachilos tracks proves this convergence.

This phenomenon does not create often copies; but, there is a tendency for obtaining a strange blend of likenesses and contrasts, similar to when you associate a shark and a dolphin for instance. Envision if the Trachilos tracks included human-like features with a couple of different features that are just not adequate. This would make us question if the human-like characteristics could be convergent. However, the Trachilos trackss don’t prove any such conflicting features, they just resemble primitive hominin footprints as much as we can differ.

the footprints

For those who do not accept the theory that Africa is not the birthplace of mankind, these footprints are problematic as well as the publishing the finding. Some do not believe at all that the tracks are footprints. Yet, the scientists behind this research have published 400 studies so the claim seems very reliable.