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Neanderthal footprints

Fossil footprints in Matalascañas, A Window to the Doñana of the Past

At the beginning of 2021, a fantastic scene was discovered on the beach of Matalascañas that took place in this environment more than 100,000 years ago. The intense winter storms and the action of strong tides uncovered a large trampled area of just over 6,000 m². The site showed an enormous number of well-preserved fossil footprints (known as 'ichnites') of large vertebrates and waterfowl However, this exceptional record held yet another great discovery, unnoticed among so many animal tracks: the existence of Neanderthal hominid footprints. However, subsequent research puts the age of these footprints at 295,000 years, making it a unique record in Europe. It is hypothesised that they are pre-Neanderthal hominids.

A mural measuring 41 metres long by 2.35 metres high, almost 100 m2, divided into two areas, which occupies the entire back space of the grandstand of a stage located next to the “José María Pérez de Ayala” exhibition hall and tourist information point, and through different elements, the information available on this discovery has been materialised.

The mural reflects all this information by recreating environments, humans and animals with high resolution vinyl prints. The importance of women in this habitat has been depicted on this panel, representing them on the same level as men and arguing their greater physical strength, as in addition to hunting and gathering, they were also responsible for the tasks of raising their young. The images that reproduce these inhabitants on a real scale serve as a comparison and reference for visitors.
Due to the fact that research is still progressing, with discoveries of new realities, dating, etc., it is possible that on the visitor’s arrival this new information will not be found in the exhibition.

An outdoor anti-vandalism totem with a 55″ touch screen and audio system allows the tourist to interact in English and Spanish and learn about this episode in the history of Matalascañas through videos, reproductions, texts…. This element will allow us to permanently update the studies on this discovery. The contents include information from experts from the Palaeontology Department of the University of Huelva who are studying the discovery and any related publications.