When I first went to Tanzania I had the privilege of visiting Oldupai Gorge where the Leakeys found a treasure trove of fossils of early man. Someone told my wife and I that when we got there we should take our shoes off and stand in the dirt so that we could feel a direct contact with our ancestors (I have to admit that the ground did feel warmer than usual). When someone asked what we were doing we told them. They were from New York. When they asked where we were from and we said California – their reply was typical of the attitude of many New Yorkers – “It figures.”
At the gorge there is a small museum discussing the discovery of the first footprints of man. These are known as the Laetoli footprints. While before you could only see a plaster cast of these footprints at the museum you can now actually see the real footprints several miles from the museum. Steve has just informed me that the Laetoli footprints are open and able to be viewed for the fist time! 3.6 million year old fossilized footprints of early hominds walking side by side are some of the most remarkable evidence of early man, his lifestyle and his gait pattern. Discovered by Mary Leakey in 1976 these prints have not been open to public viewing until now. Now they can be viewed in the Serengeti, the site where they were discovered and see them in context and fully appreciate the environment that shaped mankind. Walking upright was an evolutionary advantage. For one thing it left your hands free and enabled man to better see lions, buffalo and leopards before they saw you. These are the same animals you will see sitting upright in your vehicle.