Santiago: A team of scientists in Chile have said that they found a human footprint that dates back more than 15,000 years, the oldest one ever found in the Americas, the media reported on Tuesday.
The discovery challenges the previous timeline and map of human migration into South America.
Most available evidence held that humans did not reach the Patagonia region at the southern tip of South America until 12,000 years ago, Karen Moreno, one of the co-authors of the research, told CNN.
The scientists believe the trace fossil is an impression of the bare right foot of an adult human, Moreno said.
The research was published last week in the scientific journal PLOS-ONE.
The footprint was found in 2010 at a paleo-archaeological site in the city of Osorno in the southern part of the country, at the edge of a town home development.
But it took years for scientists to confirm the age of the fossil through carbon dating.
A new wave of research has been ongoing on Osorno since 1986 and scientists have uncovered the remains of large animals, ranging from mastodons to horses to a paleo-llama, a larger species of llama that is now extinct.
Human footprints as old as 3.6 million years old have been found in Laetoli, Tanzania.
In 1978 scientists discovered a trail of footprints made there, where three early humans are believed to have trod through wet volcanic ash.
Last year, scientists found a footprint trail in British Columbia dating to 13,000 years ago.
But thoey were much younger and much closer to the Bering Strait than this new announcement in Patagonia.