Washington, July 2 : The first time humans put their feet inside shoes was 40,000years ago, a new anthropological research suggests.
Erik Trinkaus and Hong Shang, from Washington University in Missouri made the discovery while examining toe bones from a 40,000-year-old skeleton in a Tianyuan cave near Beijing in China.
A previous study of anatomical changes in toe bone structure had dated the use of shoes to about 30,000 years ago.
Now the dainty-toed fossil from China suggests that at least some humans were sporting protective footwear 10,000 years further back, during a time when both modern humans and Neandertals occupied portions of Europe and Asia.
Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, said the scarcity of toe bone fossils makes it hard to determine when habitual shoe wearing became widespread.
However, he noted, even Neandertals may have been strapping on sandals.
"Earlier humans, including Neanderthals, show [some] evidence of occasionally wearing shoes," National Geographic News quoted Trinkaus, as saying.
Regular shoe use may have become common by 40,000 years ago, but "we still have no [additional] evidence from that time period-one way or the other," the scientist said. In the study, the anatomical evidence allowed Trinkaus to date the origin of shoes to a period long before the oldest known shoe remains.
The study appears in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.