“Little Foot” is an australopithecine (southern ape), the most complete specimen yet discovered, and some say the oldest.1
Found in a South African limestone cave in 1994 and carefully excavated during the following several years, Little Foot has been surrounded by controversy, with estimated ages ranging from 1.5 million to nearly 4 million years old. Evolutionary scientists eventually seemed to settle on 2.2 million years, based on their computed age for the flowstone that the bones were buried in.
But Little Foot is in the news again because recent analysis indicates that it is older than the surrounding flowstone. By analyzing the position of the skeleton relative to flowstone precipitated from flowing water, scientists have recently demonstrated that the flowstone surrounding the skeleton accumulated sometime after Little Foot fell into an underground cavern and died. With new support for a conventional age of 3 million years plus, Little Foot is now vying with Lucy for the title of oldest australopithecine fossil.
Although the timespan is greatly inflated, this creature’s death in a cave during (or before) the Ice Age matches what the Bible’s account leads us to expect of the post-Flood world. After the global Flood about 4,300 years ago, stormy wet conditions dissolved portions of limestone and dolomite layers, creating many caverns like Sterkfontein. Their unstable ceilings often collapse, trapping animals.
Little Foot, an ape that descended from the apes that got off Noah’s Ark, likely fell into something akin to a sinkhole and was subsequently buried by a cave-in. Little Foot’s bones were later encased in flowstone, which formed during the Ice Age shortly after the end of the Flood. (Secular dates that are younger than 2.6 million years are associated with the Ice Age, or “Pleistocene.”)
This fossil—covered by rubble, fractured and displaced, and then surrounded by flowstone—illustrates the difficult years of extreme climate change over large portions of the planet after the biblical Flood, just a few thousand years ago.