A TEAM of scientists from Gibraltar have said they have found what they believe is a 29,000-year-old Neanderthal footprint on The Rock.
The researchers, from the Gibraltar National Museum, found the footprint at the Catalan Bay Sand Dune on the east side of the British territory.
They worked with scientists from Spain, Portugal and Japan on the find as part of a ten-year-long project which uncovered footprints from several other ancient animals.
Gibraltar National Museum said that the site would be one of only two in the world with such footprints if they are confirmed as belonging to a Neanderthal. The others are at the Vartop Cave in Romania.
“The identified footprints correspond to species which are known, from fossil material, to have inhabited Gibraltar,” the museum said.
“Scientists have found the footprint of a young human, between 106 and 126 centimetres in height, possibly Neanderthal, which dates to around 29,000 years ago,” researchers added.
The museum said footprints believed to belong to Red Deer, Ibex, Aurochs, Leopards and Straight-Tusk Elephants had also been found there.
John Cortes, Gibraltar’s Minister for Heritage, said the research was extraordinary and provided an incredible insight into The Rock’s past.
“We should all take a moment to imagine the scene when these animals walked across our landscape. It helps us understand the importance of looking after our heritage,” Cortes said.
Neanderthals inhabited much of Europe and parts of the Middle East and Asia from 400,000 years ago until their extinction which began around 40,000 years ago.