An ancient footprint is pictured, having formed cracks due to desiccation after being extracted from its original site, in Osorno, Chile, sometime in April 2019.
The footprint was first discovered in 2010 by a student at the Universidad Austral of Chile, Reuters reported.
Scientists then worked for years to rule out the possibility that the print may have belonged to some other species of animal, and to determine the fossil’s estimated age.
Karen Moreno, a paleontologist with the Universidad Austral who has overseen the studies, said researchers had also found bones of animals near the site, including those of primitive elephants, but determined that the footprint was evidence of human presence.
Moreno said this was the first evidence of humans in the Americas older than 12,000 years.
“Little by little in South America we’re starting to find sites with evidence of human presence, but this is this oldest in the Americas,” she said.