What are ghost footprints? (They’re mysterious but not paranormal)

August 7, 2022 People's Tonight 103 views

By: Courtney Mroch

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Footprints1Ghost-like footprints in the sand

There I was, scrolling through the news on my iPhone, when a story from Smithsonian Magazine about 12,000-year-old human footprints found in Utah caught my eye. But not just any kind of ancient tracks. Ghost footprints.

Say what? How had I never heard of such a thing before? Maybe if I were more of an archaeologist, I would have.

Seriously though, the article interested me for a couple of reasons. One, because it mentioned Utah. The first thing that popped to my mind was Skinwalker Ranch. I recently streamed the first season of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. I was curious if the prints had been found anywhere near the Unita Basin. (They weren’t.)

The other reason was that I’m currently reading a book called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. It’s a fascinating look at how we developed as a species. The part I’m currently on has to do with how and when sapiens migrated around the planet like we did.

SapiensBecause another big story that’s been headlining science news lately concerns a find that calls into question how long humans have really been in North America.

The New Mexico Mammoth Bones

For a long time, scientists have speculated that humans have roamed North America for between 10,000 to 16,000 years. However, findings from a study published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution on July 7, 2022, suggest humans may have been on this continent much longer than that. From between 36,000-39,000 years ago.

The conclusion came after a mammoth tusk, as well as a skull and other bones that looked “deliberately broken, were found in New Mexico in 2013. It appeared that “where the remains were found [was] an ancient butchering site where humans appeared to process their kills.” Carbon dating analysis showed the bones were about 37,000 years old.

Since it looks like people might’ve been the ones “deliberately breaking” those bones, our heritage potentially dates back tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

The Ghost Footprints in Utah

Apparently, Thomas Urban, a researcher from Cornell, noticed the tracks while driving to an archaeological dig site at an Air Force base in Utah. He was with Dr. Daron Duke, the principal investigator of Far Western Anthropological Research Group.

Smithsonian reported that “Urban had recently studied ancient human ‘ghost tracks’—or prints that appear when moisture conditions are exactly right and disappear again in the sun—in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park.”

See also: A Casting Call Of Ghosts and Hauntings (or “We Have an Opening for a Ghostly Hitch-Hiker Near Hoboken, New Jersey”)

Urban thinks because humans hadn’t lived in that area in thousands of years, the prints were probably made “12,000 years ago, during the Late Pleistocene.”

Duke theorizes the prints were made because “people appear to have been walking in shallow water, the sand rapidly infilling their print behind them — much as you might experience on a beach — but under the sand was a layer of mud that kept the print intact after infilling.”

They ended up using something we’ve seen on a few ghost hunting shows to try and determine if any unmarked graves are located on a property: ground-penetrating radar (GPR). They ended up detecting more ghost footprints, “a total of 88 individual footprints from both adults and children.”

They’re not supernatural per se. However, the fact that people who died long ago created them is a little spooky. But also another super cool clue into our origin story as a species.

Read the press release about the ghost footprints issued by Hill Air Force Base:

Had you ever heard of ghost footprints before?

mroch  Courtney Mroch

Courtney Mroch is a globe-trotting restless spirit who’s both possessed by wanderlust and the spirit of adventure, as well as obsessed with true crime, horror, the paranormal, and weird days. Perhaps it has something to do with her genes? She is related to occult royalty after all. Marie Laveau the voodoo queen is one of her ancestors.

Be sure to also check out HJ’s Origin Story to learn how Courtney channeled her battle with cancer to conjure up this site.