return to home page Digital Cameras in Education eBooks in Education Technology Enhanced Literature Circles Effective Distance Education Assistive Technology in Education Teaching Science with Dinosaur Footprints Science Education Resources Other Technology Applications and Fun Stuff
Quick menu - click on the above images

  return to homepage
more about us
courses we teach
educational resources
some of our books and other publications
workshops that we will present
some of our recent presentations
search the DrsCavanaugh site
contact us by email

Fossil Trackways

Interpretation Trackway diagram of all major points (biped and quad)

By studying footprints, paleoichnologists can learn about the dinosaur’s size, and whether it was a herbivore or predator from the foot shape and the presence or absence of claws. Footprints may also give clues about the type of environment and climate where the dinosaur lived.

Paleoichnologists often begin studying tracks by making measurements. After many tracks were intensely analyzed, certain patterns have been found. The length of an individual footprint reveals important information about the size of the dinosaur. Multiplying the footprint length by four will give a close estimate of the hip height of the dinosaur, and multiplying the footprint length by ten will result in the approximate head-to-tail length of the dinosaur.

When more than a single footprint is found, more can be learned about the dinosaur. By observing the trackway of a dinosaur, we can learn about the speed it was moving. This analysis requires a clear set of at least three footprints in sequence. Pace length is the distance from the center of one print to the center of the next print made, which is from a right print to a left, or vice versa. The stride length is the distance measured from the center of one print to the center of the next print made by the same foot, which is from one left print to the next left, or from one right to the next right.

Simple calculations are used to determine whether the dinosaur was walking, trotting, or running. Divide the stride length by the hip height, and check the following table.

Stride Length ÷ Hip Height Relative Speed
Less than 2.0 Walking
 Between 2.0 and 2.9 Trotting
Greater than 2.9 Running


back   next
Site Search



Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2006 Drs.Cavanaugh  Last modified: March 06, 2008