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.