12:02 p.m.: “In the context of the field, it’s the equivalent of blowing up the Sphinx in Egypt. It’s a big deal,” says Bournemouth University’s Matthew Bennett, confirming that several of the footprints he and colleagues described in a paper published in August as belonging to an early hominin have been destroyed or stolen. But Bennett adds: “At the same time, no scientific data has been lost.”
That’s because the detailed, sophisticated analysis carried out on the 5.7-million-year-old footprints, preserved on a beach at Trachilos in western Crete, included high-resolution digital scans of every print. The team behind the controversial paper used those scans to develop models that they compared against prints from a variety of primate and non-primate species before concluding that the individual that made the tracks was an early hominin.
Scans Survive Scam
The team had always planned to make all of the digital scans available to everyone, including colleagues interested in challenging their …