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Laetoli footprints, replica WIKIPEDIA PHOTO | Coastweek

EARLIER DISCOVERY: Laetoli footprints, replica. Exhibit in the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Japan. Laetoli is a site in Tanzania, dated to the Plio-Pleistocene and famous for its hominin footprints, preserved in volcanic ash. The site of the Laetoli footprints is located 45 km south of Olduvai gorge. The location and tracks were discovered by archaeologist Mary Leakey in 1976, and were excavated by 1978. Based on analysis of the footfall impressions "The Laetoli Footprints" provided convincing evidence of bipedalism in Pliocene hominins. WIKIPEDIA PHOTO

Tanzania to construct museum for preserving historic footprints

DAR ES SALAAM (Xinhua) -- Tanzania needs about 50 million U.S. dollars to construct a modern museum for preserving the rockbed of hominid footprints at Laetoli in Ngorongoro district, Arusha region, an official has said.

Joshua Mwankunda, project manager for the planned museum said feasibility studies at the Laetoli by consultants from South Africa and Tanzania indicated that only a state-of-the-art facility will protect the 3.7 million year old footprints believed to belong to the pre-historic human ancestors.

The footprints’ trackway, excavated by Mary Leakey in 1976 and by Tanzanian archaeologists much recently, are impressed on fine-grained volcanic ash and constitute some of the world’s strongest evidence regarding the Origin of Man in the area and major landmark in palaeanthropology, said Mwankunda.

"In the 1990s, they were buried underground at the site where they were found in order to save them from erosion," he said.

He added: "It is a museum which can preserve the ash bed intact and that is sure to attract researchers from across the world to Tanzania to advance the global understanding of human evolution."

Mwankunda, who had spent the last three years coordinating research and preservation activities at Laetoli, said actual feasibility study on the proposed museum started in February 2014.

It was at that time that that the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) contracted Peter Rich Architects from South Africa and the Arusha-based GMP Consulting Engineers to carry out technical studies of the facility, said Mwankunda.

Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Jumanne Maghembe, appealed to cultural heritage stakeholders in the country and all over the world to support the financial needs of the museum and other supporting infrastructure which, according to him, holds the future of human origin studies in Africa.

Five years ago the government of Tanzania announced that it will construct a museum to preserve the rockbed on which rests the 3.7 million year old footprints at Laetoli.

Former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete made the pledge during his visit to the site in early 2011 during which he witnessed the excavation of the rockbed and ordered that a museum be constructed to enable tourists and other people to see it instead of remaining underground.

Laetoli is about 50 kilometres south west of Ngorongoro Crater and almost 30 km from the Olduvai Gorge where the same Leakey family made a spectacular discovery of a hominid (early human) skull in 1959, changing the landscape of early man studies in the world.


Tanzania unveils new discovery of very ancient human footprints



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