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Tanzania takes steps to save ancient human prints

The world's oldest human footprints are to have a museum built around them in a bid to protect them. The 3.7-million-year-old tracks in an ash bed in Laetoli, Tanzania, are threatened by erosion.

A 15-member government committee approved the 5-year plan, which calls for US$25 million to be raised for the facility.

Archaeologist Paul Msemwa, director of the National Museum in Dar es Salaam who chairs the committee, says that the panel will decide in the next month on the specific remedial measures to protect the footprints. A protective layer placed over the prints is deteriorating (see Nature 451, 118 ; 2008).

Environmental assessments and work are already under way to carve a road into Ngorongoro National Park past the Laetoli site, to provide electricity and a temporary visitor centre, officials say.

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Tanzania takes steps to save ancient human prints. Nature 452, 677 (2008).

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