While going over the casts on my very short break in April, I discovered some things that made me wonder if the impressions could have been hoaxed. The problem I found was that there seemed to be little toe splay variation from print to print. This feature (or lack thereof) might indicate a prosthetic foot, such as a wooden cutout.
|This cast was obtained in a sandy|
patch of substrate where the mud
had washed away. Note the sand
grains in the cast.
I later discovered that Dr. Jeff Meldrum had an opportunity to examine a small sampling of the London casts obtained by Toby Johnson, Thom Powell, and Guy Edwards at the recent Primal Peoples gathering in Washington. After seeing the casts, Dr. Meldrum also had some concerns about their authenticity.
This past week, I sat down with Dr. Meldrum in his office and spent several hours discussing the trackway and casts. We noted the apparent lack of variation in toe position, and talked about how much change in toe position should be expected if one individual is walking over a flat, uniform substrate. We agreed that there should be relatively little variation, but indeed some.
While closely examining photographs of the casts, we discovered several examples of toe variation that were greater than first noticed, both in relative depth and splay. These examples occurred where the substrate changed from mud to sand, and at the point where the creature walked up a slight incline towards the shoreline of the reservoir. This is exactly where one would expect this sort of variation to occur: at the change in the substrate.
I missed these details because I didn't have sufficient time to closely examine each cast and contrast it with all the others before hitting the road again after my short break. As for Dr. Meldrum's initial observations, he hadn't seen enough examples of the individual casts to determine this sort of variability.
|The twenty-fifth our of sixty-four consecutive |
impressions cast in the trackway.
Our meeting lasted several hours, and several other features visible in the detailed photographs were discussed. Many of these features point towards the authenticity of the casts. Among these features are the mud protruding up between the toes, the consistency of the grabbing action of the first three digits (but often excluding the fourth and fifth digits), and the natural shape and contour of the elongated heel. The possibility that some of the casts recorded striations from the toe nails was also brought up.
After a pleasant lunch and an interesting conversation about many bigfooty things, Dr. Meldrum dropped me off at the hotel. Upon parting, he noted that the photographs he saw helped him "turn the corner" in his opinion on the authenticity of the casts. Dr. Meldrum and I will soon solidify plans to scan all of the available casts for his Virtual Footprint Archive.
Enjoy these detailed photographs of the London Tracks (click on them for the larger versions). You may use these pictures for your personal research, or for posting on blogs and whatnot. Please respect my copyright by asking for permission to use any of my materials for other ventures.
|Impression number 121 out of 122 from the London Trackway.|
Note the distinct pressure ridge left by the grasping action of
the toes in the soft, sandy substrate.
|Some of the prints impressed two or more inches|
into the substrate.
|Close up side view of one of the earlier track casts.|
Note the striations that do NOT extend to the full
depth of the rounded toe impression. Could this
be the result of the ragged front edge of a toe nail?
|One of many very nice looking prints|
from the London Trackway.