• One of the footprints being prepared for transportation

    One of the footprints being prepared for transportation. (Photo: Joanne McSporran)

Footprints found on a remote British Columbia island might be the oldest ones ever discovered in North America. If the footprints found on Calvert Island are conclusively dated to 13,200 years ago, they would also be the second oldest in the Americas, after the Monte Verde site in Chile, the Hakai Institute said in a statement. Archaeologists Daryl Fedje and Duncan McLaren, from the institute and the University of Victoria, excavated an area just below the tideline. They were digging for prehistoric stone tools and bones. Instead, they unearthed a dozen human footprints. Unlike other coastal settlements, Calvert Island has had a relatively stable shoreline, which wasn't drowned since the end of the last ice age. Charcoal found with the prints has been radiocarbon dated to 13,200 years old but more testing is required. "There are layers above and below all 12 footprints that still need to be rigorously tested and analyzed," McLaren said in a statement from the University of Victoria. "This is an exciting hint of a group of footprints left behind in prehistoric times and now we will dig deeper into this discovery to duplicate and confirm the preliminary results with radiocarbon dating."