Patagonia a semi-arid, windswept plateau, in Southern Argentina was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521). When he and his men came ashore they found to their surprise huge footprints in the sand. These prints were half again the size of his soldiers and all was revealed when they met the Tehuelches peoples. The indigenous Indians were giants. Magellan chose the name Patagonia because in meant island of the big feet.
Large footprints have always held special fascination for humans. Almost certainly the most famous belong to the Abdominal Snowman or Yeti. These human like creatures are associated with the Himalayas and known through tracks ascribed to them and alleged encounters. Supposedly 6 to 7 ft (1.8 to 2.1 m) tall and covered with long hair. The Sasquatch or Bigfoot is also a hairy, apelike creature said to inhabit the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Reportedly sighted hundreds of times in the U.S. and Canada since the mid-19th cent. Bigfoot is variously described as standing 7to10 ft (2-3 m) tall and weighing over 500 lb (227 kg), with footprints 17 in. (43 cm) long. Many suspected Bigfoot tracks have been located. There have been some trails with over 3000 footprints going for several miles. Most scientists discount the existence of both creatures. No remains have ever been discovered and few sighting have left footprints.
Palaeontologists have long theorized about the existence of "Eve" a hypothetical common female ancestor who lived in Africa between 100,000 and 300,000 years ago and carried a specific form of DNA generic material passed on only through females. Such a footprint was discovered in South Africa in 1995 and is estimated at 117,000 years old (Homo erectus). The small stature female had been walking downhill on wet sand. By freak weather conditions the prints were preserved and later turned to stone.
A more controversial claim for the oldest fossil footprint ever found was discovered in 1968. The print appears to be the impression of a sandaled foot crushing a small marine animal. The fossil is dated at a staggering 300 to 600 million years ago. Another set of fossilised feet were discovered in Kentucky, the stone was estimated to be some 250 million years old. Most authorities believe humans have only been around for 2 million years and shoes have been known to be worn for seven thousand years. No one can explain these anomalies.
One of the largest male shoes ever recorded was worn by a Florida man with a very famous name, Harley Davidson. His shoes were size 42. That would be the equivalent of placing five shoes, each 8 1/2, end to end. Although he had a very famous name he was not the founder of the motor cycle company. Richard Wadlow of Alton, Illinois, grew to 8 feet 11 inches and 400 pounds before dying at age 22. His shoe size was a modest 37 AA. Fanny Mills was a farm girl in Ohio who she died in 1899. She wore a size 22 shoe and made her living by travelling around as a professional freak. She billed herself as the "the world's largest female foot" and the lasts of her shoes lasts are exhibited today. Abe Lincoln had big feet and like most of us had one foot longer than the other. He also had a club foot and needed his shoes to be made for him. His footprints are exhibited at the Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana.