The Lakeland yeti?

by Matthew Cobb

More cryptozoology. These two pictures were posted by a friend, Dr Fiona Crawford, who visited the English Lake District (home of Beatrix Potter) last weekend. She labelled them “tracks of unknown animal”. The first one looks like a human hand print, but the second shows a set of prints, clearly not made by human hand.

So what made them? NB There are no bears left in the Lakes, and the biggest mammals are ungulates. Mind you, it is hard to tell what the scale is. They seem to be smaller than a human hand. Could it be a pine marten? The small size would tend to exclude the possibility that someone was wearing boots with pawprints on them – in WW2 British Special Operations Executive agents in the Far East wore boots with soles with a human footprint on them, but reversed, so anyone tracking them in the jungle would think a) they were a “native” and b) they were going the other way…

UPDATE (8 April 2010):

After over 20 contributions (including from Fiona, who took the photos), I think we can be pretty confident it’s a badger print. Here’s a useful guide to prints of British mammals (when I was a lad we had these on the soles of our shoes – nothing to do with the SOE shenanigans mentioned at the beginning of this post).

The large pad kind of gives it away, no? And here are some badger prints:

On the other hand, the claws on the Lakeland Yeti’s prints seem to be much more spread out… Is the mystery really solved?

29 thoughts on “The Lakeland yeti?

  1. “in WW2 British Special Operations Executive agents in the Far East wore boots with soles with a human footprint on them, but reversed, so anyone tracking them in the jungle would think a) they were a “native” and b) they were going the other way…”

    Fascinating and ingenious. I love that kind of reversal of perception for the purpose of deception, like some of the things magicians use (which is why you can’t trust “impossible objects” as proof of paranormal phenomena).

    Smart trackers would twig to the ruse (sorry if I sound a bit PG Wodehouse here) when the “entropy” of walking was high: the steps would be close together going “downhill”, and far apart going “uphill” when they should be the other way around.

    “The small size would tend to exclude the possibility that someone was wearing boots with pawprints on them.”
    But as above, don’t exclude the possibility that someone was doing something even more ingenious (I can’t think what, but that’s not unusual) to support themselves and make the prints from a distance.

  2. This is a set of dog footprints.

    When dogs walk, they usually step about the same place with their rear foot as their front foot did. The top photo isn’t one footprint, it’s two overlapping ones.

    1. I’m innocent!

      How come these pics have nothing in it for scale? It’s one of the first things I learned when learning about how to photograph evidence (this may have gone back to the Hardy Boys, but I could be wrong).

  3. Badger. They love to be tickled in their burrows. Just stick your arm in as far as it will go and wiggle your fingers.

  4. It isn’t a pine marten as the pattern is wrong. It’s an alternating pattern here, pine marten tracks are side by side.

  5. We all seem to be onvinced it is a mustelid – so we should be weasely able to tell them apart because they are all stoatally different.

    The otter, mink, ferret and marten all have similar tracks – they are similar animals – although they have different habitats

    http://www.fishbc.com/adventure/wilderness/animals/marten.htm

    Tracks – Although the tracks of the mink and marten are very similar, the habitat is not. While the mink prefers the water the marten is partial to land. Generally the marten has a larger track and in winter the feet are covered in hair which obscures the five toe pads. This hair is not evident in the warmer months. The trail of the marten will show the over-lapping of the front and hind feet and while running a series of four prints in a rough line, a space then the series of four prints is characteristic.

    The Eurpoean marten is smaller than the American one.

    There is a picture of mink tracks here
    http://www.skullsite.co.uk/prints/Mink/vison_2track_bound1.jpg
    which shows a very similar pattern to the one posted. The elongation we’re seeing is possibly two paw prints overlapping slightly

  6. It’s obviously the Devil. Remember the famous story of the ‘night the devil walked in Devonshire’? Now that his son Obama is president, he has returned.

  7. We seem to be convinced it’s a mustelid, which means we should weasely be able to determine which one, because they are all stoatally different.

    The otter, marten, mink and ferret all have similar gaits and tracks – they are all very similar animals. When bounding in a run their tracks can appear as a straight line as in the above picture, with their hind feet landing on, and obliterating, the front print.

    Tracks – Although the tracks of the mink and marten are very similar, the habitat is not.

    The trail of the marten will show the over-lapping of the front and hind feet and while running a series of four prints in a rough line, a space then the series of four prints is characteristic

    http://www.fishbc.com/adventure/wilderness/animals/marten.htm

    Here is a picture of mink tracks showing a similar layout
    http://www.skullsite.co.uk/prints/Mink/vison_2track_bound1.jpg

    However I think it is unlikely to be a mink since “Mink are widespread in Britain’s mainland, except in the mountainous regions of Scotland, Wales and the Lake District”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mink#Distribution

  8. It looks to me as if the first picture is a close-up of the track in the foreground of the second picture.

    Either those are overlapping tracks or they have more heel than the mink or marten tracks in the links.

    I think that dog tracks usually have the middle two toes more parallel.

    Please ask your friend for the scale.

  9. Hi, I’m the person who took the photos – that’ll teach me to post my holiday snaps on Facebook. Anyway, I’m sorry I neglected to add anything for scale.
    I think the prints were about the size of an average dog paw. However, I did see lots of obvious dog paw prints, and they looked quite different to these. As for the situation, we were about 200-300m above sea level, near the base of the mountain (Carrock Fell).

  10. “Andrew Sinnott
    Posted April 7, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Permalink
    Badger prints i reckon.”

    Told ya 😛

      1. Actually I learnt about mammal tracks in Toronto. But give me a test on stegosaurs and I’ll make you proud!

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