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Discovery of 50,000 year-old Human Footprint

Posted February. 06, 2004 23:09,   


A 50,000-year-old footprint fossil of Paleolithic man was discovered in Jeju Island. This has opened a new era of researching man’s first movement on the Korean Peninsula.

Administrator Noh Tae-sup of the Cultural Properties Administration (CPA) announced yesterday that Professor Kim Jung-reul, of Korea National University of Education, and Kim Kyung-soo, a Chungbuk Science High School teacher, together discovered several thousand fossils of various animals and plants including 100 human footprints, 1000 deer footprints, 200 avian footprints and 20 horse footprints in 49,912 pyong of seashore in Anhduk and Daejung, South Jeju last October.

Professor Kim commented, “The discovery of human footprints, which is the highlight of this discovery, is the seventh in the world following Tanzania, Kenya, the Republic of South Africa, Italy, France and Chile and is Asia’s first.” He excitingly added, “These footprints are in three different types and the overall size is about 21 to 25 centimeters. Heels, medial arches and balls are very clear.”

The Cultural Properties Committee Department of Natural Monument’s Lee In-gyu explained, “The character of the footprints are indicative of homosapiens who may have lived about 50,000 years ago. They are very similar to us. Compared to other footprints discovered elsewhere in the world, these are of a later date, have clearer shape, and thus are expected to arouse the geology industry.”

The research group announced that these fossils allow us to infer the fact that Paleolithic men inhabited in the Jeju region and furthermore, to infer the physical structure of them. It is assumed that the production time of the layer where the fossils were discovered is about 50,000 years ago in the Pleistocene Epoch (Mid Paleolithic Era). It is a sedimentary layer formed by the lava from volcanoes.

The CPA for the time being classified this region as a government appointed cultural asset and natural monument, and ordered a public admission restriction to protect it from being harmed.

Mun-Myung Huh angelhuh@donga.com