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Analysis and Preservation of Pleistocene Human and Animal Footprints: An Example from Toluquilla, Valsequillo Basin (Central Mexico)

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Human and animal footprints found in the Valsequillo Basin were formed on the upper bedding planes surfaces of a volcanic ash (Xalnene Ash) deposited by a subaqueous volcano along the shores of a Pleistocene lake. The footprints were made on lake shorelines and the exposed lake floor during low stands associated, either with water displacement during the volcanic eruption, or due to climatically-driven fluctuations in the water balance. The Xalnene Ash has been dated to at least 40 K BP and consequently the human footprints provide evidence for much earlier colonization of the Americas than is often accepted. The methodology used to record, analyze and conserve these footprints used three-dimensional laser scanning, with sub-millimeter precision. This data were used to reproduce polymer models of individual footprints using the application of rapid-prototyping technology. This technology has wide significance for the study of ichnofacies in general. The characteristics of the human footprints and some problems associated with the volcanic ash as a molding medium for the clarity of these characteristics are given. These human footprints and their dating resolve the controversy related to the age of the archaeological and associated megafaunal remains that were reported in the Valsequillo Gravels in the 1960s and 1970s.
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Keywords: Mexico; Toluquilla; conservation; human/animal footprints; laser scanning; rapid prototyping

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Education and Community Studies, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom 2: School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, Poole, United Kingdom 3: School of Biological and Earth Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom 4: School of Design, Engineering & Computing, Bournemouth University, Poole, United Kingdom

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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