Observations of recent and ancient tracks

Apple tree with tracks!
Tracks in snow to an apple tree


This photo was taken recently.

However, archaeologists or paleontologists, have discovered ancient fossilized tracks.

One such set of tracks are described in the National Geographic article: Incredible details of 10,000-year-old trek revealed in fossil footprints. The prints are inferred to be a prehistoric traveler who was carrying a child across a muddy landscape and returned a few hours later empty-handed.

Below is a diagrams of even older set of animal tracks

They are presented in three groups.

Observe each one, state your observations, and then make your inferrences about what might have happened all those years ago.








View 1


Track set A


What are your observations?

What are your inferences?


Next view ->



































View 2


Track set A Track set B


What are your observations?

What are your inferences?

Next view ->


















































View 3


Track all sets

What are your observations?

What are your inferences?






















Hint are for the complete view.

Challenge: Sort them by views!

Sample observations!

  • Marks are on the surface of sedimentary rock
  • Some marks are bigger than others.
  • Marks are narrower on one side than the other
  • Marks have indents on one end
  • Marks on one end of each trail are spaced farther apart than on the other end.
  • The smaller tracks are intermingled with the larger ones where the tracks are a jumble.


Sample inferences!

  • They are footprints
  • Footprints of an animal
  • There ar two different animals
  • Larger tracks infer a larger animal
  • Smaller tracks infer a smaller animal
  • They are going in one direction, until the jumble of tracks
  • They speed up at one end
  • They arrived at about the same time
  • They arrived at different times
  • They meet
  • They fight
  • They feed at the sight where the prints are a jumble.
  • One eats the other and leaves.
  • They arrive separately and feed on whatever was previously at the site (berries or dead animal on the bank of a flooded stream). One walks away and the other flies or swims away.
  • The jumble of tracks includes both sets, which would indicate the smaller animal wasn't killed by the bigger animal as its tracks should have stopped where the larger tracks first intersect the smaller tracks.





Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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