New insights into footprint tracks

Luke taking photographs used to make a virtual model of the footprint surface, and a virtual visualisation of one of the footprint surfaces, with one large trackway running from bottom to top and another smaller one from left to right

A project undertaken by undergraduate student Luke Meade has provided new insights into the early reptiles and amphibians that produced a collection of Carboniferous footprints held in the Lapworth Museum of Geology.

Luke, a Palaeobiology and Palaeoenvironments BSc student, worked with Dr Richard Butler and PhD student Andrew Jones on the unique collection of footprints from the West Midlands and Shropshire. He used photogrammetry to create 3D virtual models of these footprints, many of which had never previously been studied in detail, in order to learn more about the anatomy and diversity of the early reptiles and amphibians that produced them. 

Luke was able to gain new insights into the morphology of the tracks and revise their classification (taxonomy), and is currently working on writing up his results for publication as a formal, peer-reviewed scientific paper. He will also present his work as a scientific poster at the Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association in Cardiff in December 2015. The models, images, and new data that Luke has created will be used in the Carboniferous displays of the new Lapworth Museum of Geology, and are being incorporated into a newly-developed Lapworth Museum iPhone app. 

Luke’s eight-week summer research project was funded by an Undergraduate Research Bursary from the Palaeontological Association.