Scientists Find 4 Sets Of Mysterious Tracks — And None Are From Snakes

Can you guess who left them behind? 🔍

At the Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary in Scotia, Australia, many threatened animals enjoy roaming freely over more than 30 miles of protected space.

Recently, scientists surveying the area spotted four distinct sets of animal footprints. The Australian Wildlife Conservancy posted photos of the tracks to their Facebook page, urging readers to guess who made these mysterious prints in the sand.

But what made the guessing game a real challenge was that none of the snake-like prints came from snakes.

animal tracks in sand
Piers Cresp/Australian Wildlife Conservancy

After some guessing, the Wildlife Conservancy revealed the true culprits behind the tracks.

The first set belonged to a centipede, whose many legs may have given them away.

centipedes
LEFT: Piers Cresp/Australian Wildlife Conservancy. RIGHT: Trevor Bauer/Australian Wildlife Conservancy

The second set of prints came from an Australian legless lizard. These limbless animals look a lot like snakes, but, according to Bush Heritage Australia, their unforked tongues and visible ears make them unique.

legless lizard
LEFT: Piers Cresp/Australian Wildlife Conservancy. RIGHT: Shutterstock

The third set of prints was made by another lizard — a sand goanna — whose foot marks are visible in curves alongside the main track in the sand.

sand goanna
LEFT: Piers Cresp/Australian Wildlife Conservancy. RIGHT: Alice Si/Australian Wildlife Conservancy

The final set of prints was made by a burrowing beetle. According to the Western Australian Museum, these beetles will remain in their underground homes for most of their lives — an area designated by a pile of excavated soil, as seen in the photo.

beetle
LEFT: Piers Cresp/Australian Wildlife Conservancy. RIGHT: Shutterstock

Though these tracks might confuse the casual observer, scientists spend years learning how to determine who may have been wandering by. Knowing who made these tracks is a helpful tool when studying the area and its inhabitants.

“A lot of it is getting out there and practicing,” Trevor Bauer, an Australian Wildlife Conservancy field ecologist, told The Dodo. “Spending time observing and looking at the small details in the tracks, watching animals, and once they have moved on, going over and having a look at the details in the sand that they leave behind.”

So next time you see some marks in the sand, take a closer look. You never know — the owner of those prints might surprise you.

To support animals like these, make a donation to Australian Wildlife Conservancy here.