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PostSubject: Footprint   Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:00 am

Footprints (or footmarks) 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.

Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the Moon.
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. 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.
Footprints can also allow the detective to find the approximate height by the size of the foot, footprint and shoeprint. The Foot tends to be approximately 15% of the person's average height. Individualistic characteristics of the footprints like numerous creases, flatfoot character, horizontal and vertical ridges, corns, deformities etc. can help the forensic scientist in cases pertaining to criminal identification, In some forensic cases, the need may also arise to estimate body weight from the size of the footprints.

Animal footprints

Carnivorous footprints in fresh snow, likely canine
Examining animal footprints is a large part of identifying the presence of various wildlife. The most obvious way to study natural footprints is finding them on fresh snow or muddy areas. Since so many prints of related animals are nearly identical, it can take a real expert to differentiate animals within a species.
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PostSubject: Re: Footprint   Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:16 am

Ancient footprints

A reproduction of dinosaur footprints.
Footprints have been preserved as fossils and provide evidence of prehistoric life. Known as "ichnites", these trace fossilscan 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, Kenyahas 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.

Other footprint findings

  • Lark Quarry - the only known palaeontological record of a dinosaur stampede.
  • Siwa Oasis – World's oldest hominid footprint discovered, over 3 million years old.
  • Laetoli – human footprints from the Pliocene era (3.7 million years ago) preserved in volcanic ash.
  • Koobi Fora – 1.5 million hominin footprints in Kenya showing essentially modern bipedal locomotion.
  • Acahualinca – 2,100 year old human footprints fossilized in volcanic ash and mud in Nicaragua.
  • Uskmouth – human footprints carbon dated to 4200BC preserved in clay.
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Footprint impressions found in the Ka’u Desert ash within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • Footprints of Eve – the oldest known footprints of an anatomically modern human.
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PostSubject: Re: Footprint   Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:18 am

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:

  • Buddha footprint – an aniconic and symbolic representation of the Buddha.
  • Golden calf – in Islam dust from the hoofprints of Haizum, the winged horse of archangel Gabriel, is used to animate the Golden calf.[20]
  • Moso's Footprint – a 1m by 3m rock enclosure in Samoa made when the giant Moso stepped over to Samoa from Fiji, and the other footprint can be found on Viti Levu, the largest island of Fiji.
  • Footprints of Bigfoot, a cryptozoological animal, are said to give proof to its existence.
  • Sri Pada, or Adam's Peak, a mountain in Sri Lanka, has a large footprint-shaped impression in the rock at its summit, said by various religious adherents to be that of the Buddha, Shiva or Adam.
  • The reputed print of the right foot of Jesus is preserved in the Mosque of the Ascension in Jerusalem.
  • A set of Jesus's footprints, according to legend, are preserved at the Church of Domine Quo Vadis outside of Rome.
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PostSubject: Re: Footprint   Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:20 am

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.
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