Using a special type of radar, researchers have discovered invisible footprints that hide from the end of the last ice age – and what lies beneath them.
Fossilized footprints reveal a wealth of information about how humans and animals moved and interacted with each other 12,000 years ago, according to a study published in the journal Scientifically Reports
"We never thought to look under the feet, but it turns out that the sediment itself has a memory that records the effects of weight and momentum on the animal in a beautiful way," said study author Thomas Urban at Cornell University in the US.
"It gives us a way to understand the biomechanics of extinct fauna that we have never had before," said Thomas Urban.
Researchers examined the feet of humans, mammoths and giant moths at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.
Using ground penetrating radar (GPR), they were able to solve 96% of human paths in the area under investigation, as well as all of the major vertebrate paths.
"But there are more implications than just this case study," said Thomas Urban.
"The technique could eventually be applied to many other fossilized footprints around the world, potentially including those from dinosaurs. We have already successfully tested the method at multiple locations within the White Sands," added Thomas Urban.
"While these 'ghosts' may become invisible shortly after the rain and when conditions are right, now, using geophysical methods, they can be captured, tracked and explored in 3D to detect Pleistocene between animals and human interactions, history and mechanics in truly exciting new ways, "said study co-author Stuart Manning.
The AWS is a failed method that allows researchers to access hidden information without the need for excavation.
The sensor – a kind of antenna – is pulled over the surface, sending a radio wave into the ground. The signal coming back gives a picture of what's beneath the surface.
Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox – subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and YouTube and stay in touch with what's happening in the world around you – in real time.