Intertidal Footprints EarthCache
Size:  (not chosen)
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THIS IS NOT EASY - you have been warned! It is a genuine difficulty
5. THIS EARTH CACHE WILL NOT BE COMPLETED BY GOING TO THE POSTED
CO-ORDINATES! What is here one day is not here the
Walking his dog along Formby beach one day, retired teacher Gordon
Roberts noticed some unusual trails of footprints on an exposed
patch of silt. His curiosity aroused, he began to take notes, then
pictures, then plaster casts and careful measurements. Soon he
found that the prints were thousands of years old, and over the
following months and years he's recorded the tracks of deer,
extinct wild cattle, large birds, and people - in particular,
Hint - Gordon Roberts showing how the edge of one layer of
sediment is eroded by the sea, revealing the footprint in the lower
(and older) layer
But these aren't rock-hard fossils. They were baked into the silt
and covered with sand and later deposits which have protected them
ever since. Now erosion is uncovering these ancient silts, but what
the sea reveals it also destroys - the footprints last only until
the next high tide or a few weeks at most once exposed.
Gordon calls it "ephemeral archaeology". Or "extreme archaeology"
because he goes out in all weathers, accompanied as always by his
dog Kim, to record these fleeting remnants of prehistoric life
before they disappear for ever.
Coastal erosion has revealed the sub-fossil footprints of humans
(adult and child), animals (aurochs, cattle, red deer, roe deer,
unshod horse, dog / wolf, wild boar, sheep / goat) and wading birds
(crane, oystercatcher and rail) preserved in late-Holocene,
laminated silt exposures in this GENERAL AREA.
Most of the footprints are located in the intertidal zone.
Stratigraphic evidence, supported by Carbon-14 and Optically-
Stimulated Luminescence dating, indicates that they are late-
Mesolithic to mid-Neolithic in origin. However, a higher, dune-
edge peat stratum contains the imprints of Iron Age domestic oxen.
5,000-year-old footprint of an adolescent human
In the context of a time frame extending back some 3.75 million
years within a variety of environments, and given the considerable
number of archæological and palæontological investigations that
take place worldwide, it is remarkable that, to date, only 63 sites
have ever revealed hominid footprints.
And of these locations, Formby Point has yielded the greatest
number of prehistoric, human footprint trails.
This is essentially a simple earth cache -
A : Find and photograph a neolithic footprint. It doesn't have to
be human, it can be from any of the species listed above, but it
has to be historical.
B : Photograph the laminated edges showing a variety of ages, and
attempt to name the deposited materials.
Undertaking this earth cache will require a severe
amount of either research, time or extreme good fortune. Good
THE MUDFLATS CAN BE DANGEROUS. TO CONFIRM : THIS EARTH CACHE
WILL NOT BE COMPLETED BY GOING TO THE POSTED
(No hints available.)