Footprints recently discovered on the shores of a small island off the west coast of Canada may be the oldest in North America, researchers say. The find also bolsters a novel theory that the first inhabitants of the continent migrated from Alaska south along the coast by boat rather than inland on foot. However, the discovery has yet to be verified and published in a peer-reviewed journal. A team led by University of Victoria archeologists Duncan McLaren and Daryl Fedje found a single footprint last year in the soft clay on the shores of Calvert Island, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) northwest of Vancouver. The researchers, backed by the Hakai Institute, returned a few months ago and dug up more footprints. These were determined to have belonged to two adults and a child seemingly huddled around a stone-ringed fire pit.

Read More: Oldest North America footprints discovered by researchers on Canada west coast