Bennett et al. (2021, Science 373, 1528–1531) reported that ancient human footprints discovered in White Sands National Park, New Mexico date to between ∼23,000 and 21,000 years ago. Haynes (2022, PaleoAmerica, this issue) proposes two alternate hypotheses to explain the antiquity of the footprints. One is that they were made by humans crossing over older sediments sometime during the Holocene. This is incorrect as there are Pleistocene megafauna tracks interspersed with the human footprints, so they cannot be Holocene in age. The other hypothesis maintains seeds used to date the human footprints were exhumed from older sediments, transported across the Tularosa Basin, and deposited on moist ground that was traversed by Clovis people at ∼13,000 years ago. This scenario requires a series of events that are highly unlikely, if not impossible. We maintain the seeds were collected from their original depositional context and the ages of the footprints fall within the Last Glacial Maximum.
- Last Glacial Maximum
- White Sands National Park
- radiocarbon dating
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics