Mothers are superheroes and now we have the scientific evidence to prove it. Not that we ever needed it, because obviously.
Scientists have discovered 13,000-year-old footprints which tell the tale of a woman carrying a toddler through treacherous terrain while surrounded by deadly predators.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Or in this particular case, saber-tooth cats, mammoths, and giant sloths. Not to mention dire wolves and bison.
So yeah. Complete BADASS.
The tracks were discovered in a dried-up lake bed in the White Sands National Park in New Mexico, USA. An international team working with staff from the National Park Service found the footprints. They stretch for nearly a mile in a straight line, & it’s the longest known track of early-human footprints ever found.
They consist of two sets of footprints, going in opposite directions, indicating that it was a return journey. The tracks are joined, at some points, by the footprints of a toddler, 2 years old or slightly younger.
Scientists believe that the woman carried the toddler across the slippery mudflats, shifting the child from hip to hip and intermittently placing him or her on the ground.
The ground was wet and slick and the prints reveal that she was slipping. They also show that she was moving very quickly.
Because in addition to the human footprints, researchers discovered tracks of a giant sloth, mammoths, and saber-tooth tigers crossing her path.
Did I mention BADASS??
Professor Matthew Bennett, of environmental and geographical studies at Bournemouth University, and co-author of the findings, wrote:
The sloth tracks show awareness of the human passage. As the animal approached the trackway, it appears to have reared-up on its hind legs to catch the scent – pausing by turning and trampling the human tracks before dropping to all fours and making off.
And just in case you’re wondering, a giant ground sloth was approximately 7-8 feet long, with wolverine-like claws capable of ripping a human being apart. Its maximum weight was as much as 800 pounds.
So yeah. Not just your average cute and cuddly tree sloth that we know and love today.
The researchers believe that the woman only carried the child one-way and returned on her own a few hours later. As to why they were out in openly dangerous terrain or where they were going, researchers can only speculate:
Was the child sick?
Did a rainstorm quickly come in catching a mother and child off guard?
We have no way of knowing and it is easy to give way to speculation for which we have little evidence.
What they do know? The woman knew of the risks and STILL made the journey anyway, very likely risking her own life for the sake of her child.
You know. As moms do.
“What we can say is that the woman is likely to have been uncomfortable on that hostile landscape, but was prepared to make the journey anyway.’
Uncomfortable? Ummmm, you think? This woman ran through a freaking landmine of prehistoric baddies, carrying a toddler (which let’s face it is no small feat in itself.) If this doesn’t scream “I am woman, hear me roar!” I don’t know what does. She was a total boss.
Discoveries such as these give us an important glimpse into our human history. They provide us with a snapshot of who we were (complete badasses) and how far we have come (still badasses.)
Dr. Sally Reynolds is the co-author and principal academic in hominin palaeoecology (the study of fossil specimens of extinct species) at Bournemouth University, & she states that:
This research is important in helping us understand our human ancestors, how they lived, their similarities, and differences.
We can put ourselves in the shoes, or footprints, of this person, imagine what it was like to carry a child from arm to arm as we walk across tough terrain surrounded by potentially dangerous animals.
And let’s face it, it doesn’t take much to imagine this. Women will go through hell and back for their children. From the moment our child is born we know. We look into their eyes, we hold their little fingers in ours, we watch them breathe.
And we know, with every last fiber of our being, that there is nothing, literally nothing, that we will not do for that baby, no matter what the cost.
This is who we are now. It is who we have always been.
Mothers today are not so different from our sisters of 13,000 years ago. We know what it is to carry our children close and storm into the world.
We may not be surrounded by saber-tooth tigers and wooly mammoths, but we do face other dangers.
We carry the weight of their little lives squarely on our shoulders, no matter how heavy the load. We shield them from the dangers lurking in the corners, on the internet, and in the big bad world around us.
We love them, carry them, protect them, teach them, and nurture them. We ARE superheroes.
Moms – kicking ass since the dawn of time.