By Carol Clark
For Emory ichnologist Anthony Martin, a snow day is a great day to do science in the field. Ichnology is the study of traces left by living things, including tracks, and Martin is an expert in the traces of both prehistoric animals and modern-day ones.
|Photo of Martin by Ruth Schowalter.|
Martin doesn't have to see the birds to know that the feeder was visited by hopping, skipping warblers, sparrows and wrens.
A blanket of snow to Martin is like a big sheet of white paper with all kinds of stories written on it.
If you take a walk in the snow, you may be surprised by the variety of animals and their activities recorded in it. Martin advises amateur ichnologists to start by looking for patterns.
“Try to think about what sort of story is being written in the snow by the animal,” he says. “Focus on ‘what is this character doing, rather than ‘who is this character.’ That makes for some really fun tracking.”
A snow angel resting trace, seen in Decatur's Adair Park. Photo by Tony Martin.