According to legend, the Devil once walked along the slope of a volcano in southern Italy and his traces were forever imprinted on solid rock. However, scientists have a different opinion on this amazing phenomenon.
The chain of footprints known as "Ciampate del Diavolo" or "Devil's Trail" is a mysterious, almost mystical landmark. They are well known to those who live near Roccomonfin - an extinct volcano that has not erupted for a good ten thousand years. Since 2001, a group of scientists have taken up its study, confident that the traces belong to a small group of ancestors of modern humans and even to some ancient animals.
In recent years, scientists have detailed 67 cuts in rock that they have found. They are a combination of hand, foot and paw prints, but for the most part they are divided into three different paths directed away from the top of the mountain. However, thanks to recent research, we have information about 14 more tracks, some of which are directed not down the slope, but up it.
Radiometric and geological dating of various rocks have already established that the prints were left in a soft "blanket" of ash left by the eruption. It happened about 350,000 years ago, making the site one of the oldest surviving human footprints on record.
But who left these traces? Analysis of the shape and depth of the prints suggests that they belong to a group of five hominids. What prompted them to walk along such an exotic route - no one knows, but judging by the leisurely pace and a lot of basalt debris, it was the day of the volcanic eruption. Probably, a certain community lived in the shadow of a mighty mountain and was forced to leave their home during the cataclysm - perhaps, in the future, scientists will find the remains of their settlement.