Tanzania unveils new discovery of ancient footprints

ARUSHA, Tanzania, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Tanzania has unveiled new sets of fresh footprints believed to belong to earliest human beings who could have walked in Ngorongoro area in northern Tanzania nearly 4 million years ago.

"The new discovery is another milestone in boosting the country's historical, cultural and science-based tourism," said Jumanne Maghembe, Tanzania's Minister for Natural resources and Tourism.

Maghembe said on Sunday here that the new footprints and imprints were found at the Laetoli archaeological site within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.

According to Maghembe, the new discovery places Tanzania at the forefront of human origin research.

The new development is the results of thorough work by two Tanzanian scientists -- Prof. Fidelis Masao, a researcher and senior lecturer of archaeology, and his colleague Dr. Elgidius Ichumbaki from the University of Dar es Salaam.

Fidelis Masao said the footprints were located about 60 meters from the site where similar humanoid prints were found in 1976.

Experts led by Tanzanian archaeologist Prof Charles Musiba are still working in the area to trace the hominid footprint and trackway to see whether there could be more pre-historic human trails.

But as far as Dr. Charles Musiba is concerned, discovering humanoid trails is one thing, preserving the same is the most challenging and if ultimate care wasn't taken, the prints may disappear faster than the time taken to expose them.

So far, Tanzania is the only country in the world boasting the oldest marks of human beings in the form of hominid footprints found in Laetoli area, of Ngorongoro. These are reported to be 3.7 million years old.

Neighbouring Kenya also reported to have discovered similar footprints a few years ago, but those ones date back just 1.5 million years ago. Tanzania also has other imprints at Lake Natron shores, in Ngorongoro District, dating back some 200,000 years.