A team of archaeologists from the United States, led by the Tanzanian researcher Prof Charles Musiba, has started fresh excavation at Laetoli historical site, in search for another set of hominid footprints dating nearly 4 million years.

The new hunt for the volcanic imprints of people believed to have walked on the archaeological site over 3.6 million years ago, is set to complement the already discovered but rock-covered, section of hominid track-way, which was briefly exposed by scientists in 2010 as directed by President Jakaya Kikwete.

Measuring some 25 meters long, the already exposed human ancestors’ footprints, according to Prof Musiba, signal that the ground before and after the set must conceal more hominid pedal imprints and his team has thus started the mission to discover them.

Once all the available hominid footprints get exposed, the proposed project to build a large, state-of-the-art, scientific museum around the site will begin, this was also a directive from the president after he visited the site over two-years ago.

The ‘Jurassic’ museum which will actually be a large dome that creates its own weather condition through special machinery and high-tech electronics will need US $ 30 million for its construction according to the experts.

But the government had pledged to foot the bill for the construction of the state-of-the art, giant technological ‘green house’ type of a museum which will be able to regulate its own temperature and weather conditions in order to preserve the footprints and display the marvel to visitors

Believed to have been officially discovered by Dr Mary Leakey in 1976, the 25-metre-long tracks of hominid footprints are sited in 14 locations at the Laetoli site in Ngorongoro but in 1995 they got covered with an elaborate stony protective layer following claims that they had “started to deteriorate with continued exposure.”

The tracks remained hidden and out of sight since then amid mixed reactions from conservators and international organizations worldwide.

The historical footprints are preserved in powdery volcanic ash from what scientists believe to be an eruption of the 20 kilometers-long Sadiman Volcano. Soft rain cemented the 15 cm thick layer bearing the imprints without destroying the prints.

The hominid sole prints were produced by three individuals, one walking in the footprints of the other, making the original tracks difficult to discover. As the tracks lead in the same direction, scientists say they might have been produced by a group.

German anthropologist Ludwig Kohl-Larsen was the first to go to Laetoli to look for fossil remains. In 1934 he found the jaw of Australopithecus afarensis.

Source: http://allafrica.com/


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