Cover of Science, 27 February 2009. Optical laser scan of early hominin footprints at Ileret, Kenya, color-rendered to illustrate depth; reds indicate areas of high elevation, blues lower elevation. The footprints are 1.5 million years old and were probably made by Homo ergaster/erectus. Two right footprints and a partial left are visible along with a range of animal prints. Image processing in RapidformTM: Matthew Bennett/ Bournemouth University.These footprints are distinct from the "famous" Laetoli footprints, discovered by Mary Leakey in 1976 at Laetoli, Tanzania which dates to about 3.5 million-years-ago. The Laetoli footprints belong to Australopithecus afarensis and at least two individuals were present, walking side by side.
Laetoli footprints. Photo from www.pbs.com
The Ileret footprints are different and similar to the Laetoli footprints in many ways. Laetoli footprints are more ape-like, Ileret footprints are more human-like. Both, however, do not have an opposable toe like those of chimpanzees. Both footprints indicate that its owner was walking bipedally or has a bipedal gait.
Comparison between a chimpanzee footprint and Australopithecus afarensis (Laetoli) footprint. Photo of chimpanzee footprint from www.elucy.org and photo of Laetoli footprint from www.columbia.edu
Comparison between Homo ergaster (Ileret footprint) and modern human. Photo of Ileret footprint by Matthew Bennett from www.nationalgeographic.com
Read more on "Prints Are Evidence of Modern Foot in Prehumans" by John Noble Wilford.
Rutgers' Press Release: 1.5 Million-Year-Old Fossil Humans Walked on Modern Feet.
Bennett MR. Harris JWK. Richmond BG. Braun DR. Mbua E. Kiura P. Olago D. Kibunjia M. Omuombo C. Behrensmeyer AK. Huddart D. Gonzalez S. 2009. Early Hominin Foot Morphology Based on 1.5-Million-Year-Old Footprints from Ileret, Kenya. Science 323 (5918): 1197 - 1201. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1168132]