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May 2018 Natural Mystery Answered

posted Jun 12, 2018, 6:47 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jun 12, 2018, 6:48 AM ]
Our May Natural Mystery was a trickster indeed. Guesses included bobcat, grey fox and domestic cat. In fact, this print was left by our nemesis, the common raccoon.

The most deceptive feature of the print may be the apparent double lobe on the leading edge of the palm pad. This cat-like shape is an artifact of soil movement combined with the way the shadow falls on the track. The lack of an obvious toe one is also confusing.

Despite it's trickery, the raccoon did still leave a few of its telltale traits in this print. The toes are long and narrow, rather than bulbous, and connect nearly all the way to the palm. Although they are obscured by irregularities on the surface of the ground, there are small claw marks visible in front of each toe. Finally, we can look at the shape of the palm pad. The leading edge of the pad is almost as wide as the trailing edge, and the trailing edge is unlobed and indistinct.

Thanks to everyone who submitted guesses for this trickster-transformer track. This time it really was a raccoon, and couldn't be proven otherwise!