MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: are dog footprints unique like human fingerprints?

Date: Tue Mar 14 11:58:54 2000
Posted By: Janet Hoff, Staff, Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine, University of Michigan
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 952568421.Zo

Dog prints are not as individual as human finger prints. Animal foot pads vary and it it certainly impossible to find two that are exactly alike, but they don't have the "finger print" pattern that we do.

Take a close look at a dogs feet. The paw pads cover what would be the palm of your hand. Your fingers have three sections of bones in it, it bends in three different places and between each bend is an individual bone. The end of your finger has a finger nail. A dogs finger (which is called a toe on all for feet) is similar, except the dog's nail is like the end of your finger. If the whole nail was removed (like when cats are declawed) it would be like removing the tip of your finger. The other two bones of the toe are much shorter than your fingers, then you reach the bottom of the foot, which is similiar to your hand. Their wrist is about an inch up from the bottom of the foot and their elbow is up next to the body and their shoulder is above the elbow (you can feel the tips of the shoulders on his back). So dogs and people have very similiar bones, but the size and position vary.

I found some fun stuff to do with paw prints on the internet:

To make footprint stamps you will need: paper copies of the tracks of animals that live in your area, scissors, Dr. Scholls (or equivalent) foot and shoe padding (available at drugstores), ink pads, paper, small blocks of wood.

Here's what you do: What animals live in your area? When is the best time to find tracks? Usually tracks are easiest to spot in the winter when there is snow on the ground or at other times of year when the mud is soft.

You have probably noticed that all animals do not have the same footprints. Deer have hooves while a coyote's foot resembles that of a dog. Mice have tiny feet while bears have large paws.

Choose an animal whose track you would like to make into a stamp. Either draw or find a copy of what the animal's print looks like in a book.

Once you have chosen your animal, cut out its print, lay the paper on top of the Dr. Scholl's, and cut the Dr. Scholl's in the shape of the track. Glue the insole onto your wooden block. Once it has dried test out your new stamp with an inkpad and paper.

Say you made a mouse track and your friend made a coyote footprint. You can make a mystery scene in the woods on a large piece of paper with both of your animals.

This idea comes from Project Seasons by Deborah Parrella (Shelburne, VT: Shelburne Farms, 1995).

From I foundů.

Learn how to find animal tracks on your next nature walk.

What animal prints can you spy in this outdoor activity?

by Dina Anastasio

  1. On your next outdoor walk, take along a large piece of aluminum foil and a small bag of sand or potting soil.
  2. When you enter the woods, lay the foil on the ground, away from the path. Spread a thin layer of sand or soil on the foil. You might want to leave a bit of animal-friendly food, like a small piece of bread, in the center of the sand as a lure.
  3. Continue with your walk. On the way back, see if any animals have left tracks in the sand, and if so try to identify them.
Have fun!!

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