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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the Moon.
If shoes are worn frequently without socks, footprints become visible over time on their insoles.

Footprints are the impressions or images left behind by a person walking. Hoofprints and pawprints are those left by animals with hooves or paws rather than feet, while "shoeprints" is the specific term for prints made by shoes. They may either be indentations in the ground or something placed onto the surface that was stuck to the bottom of the foot. A "trackway" is set of footprints in soft earth left by a life-form; animal tracks are the footprints, hoofprints, or pawprints of an animal.

Footprints can be followed when tracking during a hunt or can provide evidence of activities.

Some footprints remain unexplained, with several famous stories from mythology and legend. Others have provided evidence of prehistoric life and behaviours.


Footprints in detective work

Footprint left at crime scene.

The print left behind at a crime scene can give vital evidence to the perpetrator of the crime. Shoes have many different prints based on the sole design and the wear that it has received – this can help to identify suspects.[1] Photographs or castings of footprints can be taken to preserve the finding. Analysis of footprints and shoeprints is a specialist part of forensic science.

Some detective work is relatively immediate, with criminals being tracked by the footprints they left in the snow leading from the crime scene to their home or hiding place. This is usually reported as a humorous story in news publications.[2][3]

Footprints can also allow the detective to find the approximate height by the size of the shoe. The Foot tends to be approximately 15% of the person's height.[citation needed]

Ancient footprints

A reproduction of dinosaur footprints.

Footprints have been preserved as fossils and provide evidence of prehistoric life. Known as "ichnites", these trace fossils can give clues to the behaviour of specific species of dinosaur. The study of such fossils is known as ichnology and species known only by such evidence are known as ichnospecies. The Grallator is one example of a genus that has left no fossils other than ichnites.

For example, an international team's discovery of a set of 1.5 million-year-old human ancestor footprints in Ileret, Kenya has shown the earliest direct evidence of a modern human style of upright walking. The team believe that the prints were probably formed by the species Homo erectus.[4]


Other footprint findings

Footprints in myth and legend

One legend states that these impressions, kept in the Church of Domine Quo Vadis, are the footprints of Jesus.

The appearance of footprints, or marks interpreted as footprints, have led to numerous myths and legends. Some locations use such imprints as tourist attractions.

Examples of footprints in myth and legend include:

Jack Nicholson's foot and handprints outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Footprints in popular culture

The imagery of footprints has been used in many areas of popular culture. Several poems and songs have been written about them, with the religious poem Footprints being one of the best known.

Prints or impressions of a child's feet can be kept as a memento by parents. Usually this is done using paint. The impressions of celebrity's feet, usually in concrete, may be kept in a collection such as that outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

See also

External links


  1. ^ BBC News, 2 March 1998. "Footprints help to track down criminals". Accessed 28 July 2006.
  2. ^ BBC News, 30 June 2005. "Vandal caught by his footprints". Accessed 28 July 2006.
  3. ^ BBC News, 27 April 2006. "Footprints in snow lead to court". Accessed 28 July 2006.
  4. ^ Ancient 1.5 Million-Year-Old Footprints Show Earliest Evidence of Modern Foot Anatomy and Walking Newswise, Retrieved on March 3, 2009.
  5. ^ CNN: Human footprint may be oldest ever found
  6. ^ Wong, Kate. Scientific American, 1 August 2005. "Footprints to Fill – Flat feet and doubts about makers of the Laetoli tracks". Accessed 28 July 2006.
  7. ^ Bennett, M. R., et al. "Early Hominin Foot Morphology Based on 1.5-Million-Year-Old Footprints from Ileret, Kenya". Science. v. 323. no. 5918, p. 1197 - 1201, DOI: 10.1126/science.1168132
  8. ^ Schmincke, H.-U., S. Kutterolf, W. Perez, J. Rausch J, A. Freundt, and W. Strauch, 2008, Walking through volcanic mud: the 2,100 year-old Acahualinca footprints (Nicaragua). I Stratigraphy, lithology, volcanology and age of the Acahualinca section. Bulletin of Volcanology. v. 71, no. 5, p. 479-493. doi: 10.1007/s00445-008-0235-9
  9. ^ Gathering the Jewels. "Prehistoric footprints, Uskmouth, Glamorgan". Accessed 28 July 2006.
  10. ^ Nakamura, J. J. M., 2008, Hominid Footprints in Recent Volcanic Ash: New Interpretations from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Ichnos. v. 16, p. 118–123, 2009. DOI: 10.1080/10420940802471001
  11. ^ "National Geographic press release 08/14/1997 Footprints from Dawn of Modern Humans found". Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  12. ^ Japanese Buddhist Statuary, 14 January 2005. "Stone footprints of the Buddha". Accessed 28 July 2006.
  13. ^ "The Devil's Footprints". Accessed 28 July 2006.
  14. ^ "Libra the Scales". Accessed 28 July 2006.


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