MamboFootPrints Usambara Mountains, Tanzania
also known as Madala hominid footprints
(also incorrect published as Mandala hominid footprints)
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by Barber Brent, archaeologist January 2012

Impressions in rock, with a resemblance to hominid foot- and animal hoof-prints, have been discovered on the western slope of the Usambara Mountains in north-eastern Tanzania. The initial interpretation was that these were ancient trace fossils similar to the tracts made in freshly deposited volcanic ash, some 3 million years ago at Laetoli in the Olduvai Gorge, by a passing group of early Australopithecine hominids.

Brent02 Brent03

Unfortunately, no volcanic or fossil-bearing sediments occur in the Usambara’s. The mountains are formed by feldspathic gneisses and granulite of Precambrian age in the Usagaran, arm of the northerly trending Mozambique Mobile Belt. The Usambara Plateau, which is a Late Creatceous / Lower Tertiary land surface, is covered by red-brown lateritic soils and clays and, in the vicinities of Mabughai and Magamba, developments of bauxite. The impressions, which are a weathering phenomenon, are developed in highly metamorphosed biotite-rich feldspathic gneisses cut by small quartz-rich pegmatites.
However, although only a freak of nature, the ‘pseudo-footprints’ near Mambo View Point give an excellent impression of what ancient hominid and animal tracts look like and, combined with the breath taking views of the northern Usambara escarpment and surrounding plains, are well worth visiting.

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