Children often see footprint impressions in mud or sand but are rarely
asked to think about deriving information from them. This coloring exercise
will help students obtain information from dinosaur tracks. Dinosaur
footprints are the impressions that dinosaurs made with their feet. The
pattern of footprints that may reveal whether the dinosaur ran or walked, or
whether it was two legged or four legged.
- Tell students that footprints by themselves can provide information on
the size of the animal. Ask students how their footprints are different
from their mothers' or fathers' footprints. The children should realize
that their feet are smaller. Ask them if this pattern would hold true
for a dinosaur. Large dinosaurs had large feet and small dinosaurs had
small feet. Dinosaur tracks can also tell us if dinosaurs walked, ran,
walked in pairs, or if they lived alone or liked the company of other
- Ask your students to imagine that they are walking in sand at the
beach. Ask them if they would they leave footprints in the sand. They
should answer yes, at least until the water washed them away. Ask the
students what information they could derive information from their
footprints as well as other footprint pattern in the sand. Their answer
might include the size of the person, how close together people were
walking, and if a person was pigeon-toed or walked like a duck. They
could also tell if the person was wearing shoes and perhaps even
distinguish the pattern of the sole of their shoes.
- On the lab sheet, there are four sets of footprints (please note that
these are only sketches). Ask the students the following questions:
- Which of these footprints might be from a heavy animal? Why do you
think so? Apatosaurus, because the footprint is large and
compact, almost resembling an elephant.
- Which animal had large claws? Tyrannosaurus, because it has
long, slender imprints; almost like a big bird.
- Can you tell if the animal was running or walking? No, you must
be able to view a pattern of footprints to interpret how the animal
- Which dinosaurs had five toes? Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus.