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Earth Sciences & Geography - Geology | Human Footprints: Fossilised Locomotion?

Human Footprints: Fossilised Locomotion?

Bennett, Matthew R., Morse, Sarita A.

2014, XII, 216 p. 92 illus., 28 illus. in color.

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  • The only current book on the academic study of human footprints (tracks)
  • A unique fusion of geology, archaeology, anthropology and forensic sciences of interest to a wide audience of researchers and students
  • Provides the first review of methods for the study of human footprints
  • Contains a rich resource of unpublished data, examples and illustrations
  • Human footprints provide a unique connection with the past and provide some of the most emotive evidence of our ancestors

Human footprints provide some of the most emotive and tangible evidence of our ancestors. They provide evidence of stature, presence, behaviour and in the case of early hominin footprints, evidence with respect to the evolution of human gait and foot anatomy. While human footprint sites are rare in the geological record the number of sites around the World has increased in recent years, along with the analytical tools available for their study. The aim of this book is to provide a definitive review of these recent developments with specific reference to the increased availability of three-dimensional digital elevation models of human tracks at many key sites. The book is divided into eight chapters. Following an introduction the second chapter reviews modern field methods in human ichnology focusing on the development of new analytical tools. The third chapter then reviews the major footprint sites around the World including details on several unpublished examples. Chapters then follow on the role of geology in the formation and preservation of tracks, on the inferences that can be made from human tracks and the final chapter explores the application of this work to forensic science.

This volume will be of interest to researchers and students across a wide range of disciplines – sedimentology, archaeology, forensics and palaeoanthropology.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Biomechanics - Footprints - Hominins - Human Evolution - Human Ichonology - Trace Fossils

Related subjects » Anthropology & Archaeology - Biomedical Sciences - Geography - Geology - Human Physiology

Table of contents 

1.    Fossilised locomotion
1.1 Human tracks
1.2 Key concepts and definitions
1.3 Models of footprint formation
1.4 Footprint resources
1.5 Summary

2.    Modern methods of data capture
2.1    Geo-prospection and excavation
2.2    Recognising human tracks
2.3    Dating human tracks
2.4    Methods of digital data capture
2.5    Data manipulation
2.6    Basic measurements: tracks and trackways
2.7    Advanced measurements: tracks and trackways
2.8    Summary

3.    World review of human track sites
3.1    Pliocene to Early/Middle Pleistocene tracksites
3.2    Late Pleistocene to Holocene tracksites
3.3    Summary

4.    Geoconservation of human tracks
4.1    Geoconservation
4.2    Placing value on human tracksites
4.3    Conservation risks: threats and challenges
4.4    Conservation options
4.5    Summary

5.    The role of substrate in track formation and topology
5.1    Substrate controls: introduction
5.2    Models of human track formation
5.3    Substrate controls
5.4    Track taphonomy
5.5    Summary

6.    Inferences from human tracks
6.1    The limits of inference
6.2    Inferring body dimensions
6.3    Inferring age
6.4    Fossilised locomotion?  Inferences on speed and gait
6.5    Evolution and foot function
6.6    Summary

7.    Forensic applications
7.1    Crime scenes
7.2    Methods for collecting footwear evidence
7.3    How unique is a footprint?
7.4    Profiling a suspect
7.5    Summary

8.    Conclusions
8.1    Future research perspectives



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