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Fossilised prehistoric human footprint believed to have been found in north Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 07:30 17 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:43 17 February 2018

Russell Yeaomans pictured at West Runton beach where he found some fossilised human footprints.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Russell Yeaomans pictured at West Runton beach where he found some fossilised human footprints. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

It is a geologist’s dream to discover any evidence that gives mankind a glimpse into their prehistoric past.

A cardboard template of a woman's foot fits perfectly into the shape. Picture: Russell YeomansA cardboard template of a woman's foot fits perfectly into the shape. Picture: Russell Yeomans

But to find a human footprint from half a million years ago is both rare and ground-breaking, yet a published amateur geologist from north Norfolk believes he has found just that.

Russell Yeomans is a local legend for being one of the pair to find a mammoth tibia on West Runton beach in April 2017.

However Mr Yeomans, a Gunton resident, has potentially made an even more astonishing discovery.

Mr Yeomans, 65, has found what he believes be a human footprint on West Runton’s former forest bed.

The 'squeeze' is seen here- where the former soft earth has been pushed back by the heel of a foot. Picture: Russell YeomansThe 'squeeze' is seen here- where the former soft earth has been pushed back by the heel of a foot. Picture: Russell Yeomans

He said: “My reaction was just... wow. I couldn’t believe I was seeing it. It’s so distinctive you know what it is you’re looking at.

“Fossils like this aren’t totally hard- they’re not like rocks, more like cement. We cut a piece of cardboard around my wife’s foot to see if it fit the shape and it was a perfect fit- a lady’s size five.”

Mr Yeomans’ first discovery was the female footprint walking alongside West Runton’s former river bed.

He sent his findings off to local experts, who could not confirm whether or not the fossil was indeed a footprint, and asked for further evidence.

Russell Yeaomans pictured at West Runton beach where he found some fossilised human footprints.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYRussell Yeaomans pictured at West Runton beach where he found some fossilised human footprints. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“I just thought, ‘Oh okay! I’ll go and find another one!’ It’s basically impossible!” said Mr Yeomans. “But a few weeks later we did- this time a much larger footprint with what appeared to be smaller footprints of a child too.

“What you’re looking for to see if it’s a foot print is ‘squeeze’, so you look for where the ground would have moulded and been pushed up by someone standing on it. And that’s what this one had.”

Leading geologists from the British museum visited the scene just three days later.

Nick Ashton, of the British Museum, said: “Our initial thoughts are that these marks are more likely to be the result of erosion because of the sediment layers.

“But we can’t rule out the fact that they’re not footprints.”

Mr Yeomans added: “What I want is for this knowledge to be out there, so that other people go out and look too. We never dig up the cliffs and would not ask anyone else to either, but the more people that are looking for these fossils, the more we’ll find.”

Sadly these particular prints have now been covered over by new layers of sand and cliff debris.

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