Variation in footprints

I’ve written a bit about the variation inherent in footprints before, but now I can show quite a nice example I spotted on the beach recently. These two tracks were left by a dog running on the sand. Now I’m not sure if they are two hindfeet, two forefeet or a fore and a hind, but given the normal footfall pattern I suspect one of the former. It doesn’t really matter too much in any case given the fundamental similarity between the feet of a dog – you’d expect them to be pretty much identical.

As you can see through, it’s quite obvious that one foot has left a track rather different to the other with the two lateral footpads effectively missing. This might be down to ow the animal was running, some subtle variation in the substrate or something else (other tracks confirmed that the foot itself was normal as elsewhere there were normal tracks). Quite simply, tracks will vary and you want a decent set of them to make sure that any variations are accounted for, and therefore one must be especially careful with unusual, isolated tracks.

5 Responses to “Variation in footprints”


  1. 1 Peter Falkingham 20/10/2010 at 9:33 am

    Nice photo Dave, I may ask to borrow that in the future! I have a similar looking image of a ‘webbed’ dog footprint.

    I think it really highlights that isolated tracks are of severely limited use, whereas trackways are infinitely more useful/interesting.

    • 2 David Hone 20/10/2010 at 9:56 am

      Yes, certainly borrow away. I’ve got a high-res version floating around if you want it and another at a slightly different angle.

      And agreed on the trackways issue.

      Fianlly, some dogs (like newfoundlands) do have webbed toes, so watch out for that one!

      • 3 Peter Falkingham 20/10/2010 at 10:32 am

        Yeah, this dog didn’t, as evidence by the rest of the tracks it left (similar to in your case).

      • 4 David Hone 20/10/2010 at 11:05 am

        Fair enough! Just making sure, I know there are some out there. Sounds cool actually – if you don’t mind, why not send me a copy and i can add it to this post, or do another separate little one to show it off. Nice to catalogue a bit of the variation.


  1. 1 Blog Carnival #25: Reading Dino Tracks, Catching a Thief, Wikipedia Whiffs and More.. | Dinosaur Tracking Trackback on 28/10/2010 at 3:42 pm

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