While I rarely delve into ichnology (that’s the study of trace fossils for those who’ve not been keeping up), I (fairly) recently came across something that was well worth sharing on the Musings. Many aspects of palaeontology require lots of extrapolation from limited data, or complex reconstructions of various organisms or mechanics etc. to try and work out some details of the biology of an animal known only from a few partial skeletons. Happily however, there’s certainly one aspect of palaeo at least that pretty much anyone can explore experimentally at home – making tracks.

Lots of people have done lots of experiments generating tracks on different substrates using different animals or models or even just recording tracks in the wild. It’s obviously incredibly simple to do and can help generate some real data for comparison to the fossil record. In this case, some nice slick mud following a rainstorm led to some beautifully clear tracks being laid down and early morning light left them wonderfully clear. What’s nice for me is that several features that I have seen described in various archosaur tracks are shown up really quite nicely here and it’s easy to see how similar factors would have led to these being laid down in the same way.

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4 Responses to “Tracks”

  1. 1 neil 04/01/2010 at 2:16 am

    Any idea of the track maker(s) here?
    Anuran? (Clearly, I’m no ichnologist)

    • 2 David Hone 04/01/2010 at 1:59 pm

      Well this was taken in the late autumn and it was pretty cold, but I know people had seen snakes at least active at the same time so it’s not unreasonable that frogs were out. I had actually made some notes at the time, but can’t finf them now. I can’t see anything obviously anuran but then i could be wrong. I think most are from lizards and birds but I’m not sure. I’m pretty good with mammal tracks, but not much else, sorry.

  2. 3 neil 05/01/2010 at 4:49 am

    The drag marks, apparent webbing and the inflected fore feet made me think toad:

    see for instance –

    Lizard seems possible too though.

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