Researchers have shed new light on a fossil footprint found on the slope of an extinct volcano. Known as the Ciampate del Diavolo or the Devil's Footprint, the impressive imprints that were preserved in pyroclastic flow deposits on the side of the extinct Roccamonfina volcano in Italy were discovered by researchers in 2001 and date back about 350,000 years ago.
For centuries, locals attributed these prints to a demon or devil, but in later years, scientists began to shed light on which hominin species might be responsible.
Now, according to the new article, the most likely candidate would be Neanderthals, not modern humans, and they would climb the volcano, not descend from it.
At least five people made the ascent, although it is unclear why they should have climbed there, especially since the volcano should have erupted shortly before.
When they were fresh, the material that kept the prints would have been scorching 300 degrees Celsius, which means they had to at least wait a while before trying to climb.
Of course, questions still remain, such as whether they ever made it back alive. Also, did they go there out of curiosity or did they have a more specific goal in mind?
Given the current state of affairs, we will never know for sure.