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 ENSIWEB: Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes



Short segment from middle of the trackway
used in our Laetoli Trackway Puzzle



See how this Topo Trackway is being used in South Africa by Dr. Terry Hutter, to help teach South Africans about their origins.
CLICK HERE for more details and pictures.

Walking in
the Footsteps of Lucy:

Here is a photo of some students in Robert Dennison's Biology class "walking the walk." Their school is Jersey Village High School in the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Houston, Texas. The walkers are Christopher "Lucy's Friend" Smith and Allison "Lucy" Wardwell. They are being observed intently by waiting walkers
Holly Hamlin and Dylan Clewis.
Saron Tesfalul is getting ready in the background to step into the first set of tracks and become the mysterious "third person." [Permission kindly granted to show and name the people pictured here.]

New Digital
"Topo" Trackway:

We can now provide a high resolution (300 dpi) file of a portion of the photogrammetric ("topographic") version of the southern part of site G, adapted from the Mary Leakey source (1987). See portion at left. There are eight footprints in each trail (two trails side-by-side, each with four left and four right footprints).

Have your students actually "walk in the footsteps of 3.6 million year old 'Lucy'." Students get a real thrill, and soon discover that they have to be rather short, with one person shorter than the other, and must walk with their arms around each other's waists to fit into those tracks side-by-side. If they are very perceptive, they may also discover that there must have been a third person walking in the tracks of the larger first one. (Don't tell them these things - let them discover for themselves.)

Getting the NEW "Topo" Trackway:


Thanks to teacher suggestion, we have scanned and digitized the Laetoli Topo trackway. The trackway has been a very popular item; over the past several years. Nearly a hundred copies of the 2x scroll were mailed free to teachers to further enlarge to full scale size so their students could walk in the footprints of "Lucy" and analyze other aspects of the tracks. Now, however, if you want to make a full scale trackway, you can just download our digital version here (it's a very sharp 300 dpi, 3.1 MB file) and one other file* (see next paragraph). Transfer these two files to a USB memory stick, and take this to any print shop for them to print out a 5X enlargement for you. The finished enlargement will measure about 3ft x12ft. Ideally, they should also laminate it for you, so it will survive many years of use. Be sure to ask them for the cost of these two processes. Your district may also have the means for doing this, too, at lower cost.

*The other file here is a small Sample portion of that trackway file, showing the scale. Ask the printer to make a 5X printout of that Sample file first, checking the scale to be sure the enlargement is accurate. Then, the printer can print out the 5X enlargement of the total trackway from the "Total" file, making any adjustments indicated.

Finally, there is a third file with the trackway reduced to 10 inches, suitable for printing out on standard paper, or inserting as a slide for a PowerPoint presentation.


Total Hi-Res Trackway to enlarge

Sample Portion of tracks with scale (to check)

Ten inch version of Topo Trackway

Let the webmaster know how these digital versions work for you. Also, if you have any problems downloading these files or getting them enlarged at a printers, contact the webmaster

If you prefer to get the 2x enlargement strip (NOT full scale) sent to you in a mailing tube, just send your request to the webmaster, along with your mailing address. There's no charge; just share your experiences after your class has "walked in the footsteps of Lucy." Your cost for further enlargements and laminating could be anywhere from about $30 to $100, depending on who does it.


The "Economy Route": since most of the big cost in the trackway is the lamination, you may want to try just using the full scale trackway without laminating. Just be sure the floor is smooth and clean, and that students walk carefully, probably in their socks. You will still have the digital file, so you can make a new full scale enlargement if the previous one gets too damaged to use.


SOURCE of original "Topo Trackway" which has been extensively modified for use in these ENSI lessons: Leakey, Mary D. & J.M. Harris (Ed). 1987. Laetoli: a Pliocene Site in Northern Tanzania. Clarendon Press, Oxford.


 The Laetoli Trackway Puzzle:
This is an additional inquiry and analysis lesson that uses portions of these tracks for some more detailed interpretations of the data. Click on the title above to get to the lesson and handouts. If you use it, let us know how it goes. Likely responses to the worksheet can be obtained by sending your request for this (from your school email address) to the webmaster.

SOURCE: Leakey, Mary D. & J.M. Harris (Ed). 1987. Laetoli: a Pliocene Site in Northern Tanzania. Clarendon Press, Oxford.