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New Study On White Sands National Park Confirmed Millenia Old Footprints

Just in case you need another excuse for an epic White Sands National Park visit! A new study confirms that humans might have been here during the last Ice Age.

Photo Courtesy Of Pixabay

PopularScience ~ "The White Sands footprints walk us through a different origin story. A 2021 study had dated them to 21,000 to 23,000 years ago, and in a new report published today in the journal Science, the same team of experts confirmed the hotly debated estimates with two new tests. Not only does this mean humans were here during the last ice age, but it also could change what we know about the first people that came to North America.

'This was groundbreaking to the archaeologic community, and it was also a tough pill to swallow,” says Kathleen Springer, a research geologist for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) who helped analyze the fossilized steps. “Having 23- to 21,000-year-old footprints is much earlier than the prevailing paradigm of Clovis or pre-Clovis that are known in this part of North America.'

To avoid heavy-water effects, the team extracted pollen grains from the same sediment as the White Sands footprints. According to Pigati, this is a time-consuming and laborious process because it involves breaking down rock into one cubic centimeter of material and separating pollen from other organic material before measuring carbon-14 levels. Additionally, pollen is extremely light—experts need to sample thousands of grains to meet the minimum mass requirement for a single radiocarbon measurement. In total, they successfully isolated 75,000 pollen grains. When the they compared the measurements to ones from the seeds of the aquatic plant, the ages matched.

The second technique was optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. Unlike radiocarbon dating, OSL dating is based on the buildup of luminescence properties in quartz crystals over time; in some rare cases, it can date sediments as far back as 400,000 years ago. The USGS team dated three different mineral samples from the same area where the footprint was discovered and calculated ages that were similar to the ones measured in the seeds". ~ PopularScience


Military Temporary Lodging for the White Sands National Park is very convenient. Holloman Air Force Base is right next door.

The Holloman Inn on Holloman AFB offers queen-size and standard rooms and queen-size suites with a pullout sofa. Pets are allowed in this facility. Fees and restrictions apply.

The Holloman Air Force Base FamCamp is open year-round and offers sites with full hookups and an overflow area with no hookups. Pets are allowed in this campground, but vaccinations are required, and pets must be leashed and attended to at all times.

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