The Anomalist


Archive > High Strangeness Reports


Mystery Tracks

by Patrick Huyghe

In January of this year a set of mysterious tracks was found in an infrequently visited cave called Cueva del Arroyo in Central Mexico. On the caving trip were Bonnie Crystal, Peter Strickland, Andy Grubbs, and Ernie Garza. The unidentified animal tracks were found after the team's fourth rope drop into the middle of a deep lake. Following a 30 meter swim, the team reached an area of mud islands inside the 25 meter by 3 meter high passage.

There they found the tracks, leading into and out of the water and crossing several of the mud islands. The tracks showed no distinct claw marks, and no tail or body marks. According to Crystal, the tracks looked like they were made by a bipedal animal. The only known entrance to the cave is the a sheer-sided rope drop at the end of a long deep box canyon. Crystal believes they may have discovered evidence of an uncommon or previously unidentified troglodite.

Upon viewing the photographs of the tracks, a bird scientist stated that the tracks could not have been made by a bird and suggested a raccoon. Another dismissed the possibility of a lizard because the tracks are rather narrow and not splayed out like a lizard's. Others have suggested a crocodile (which some think is hilarious; since the caves flood from mostly dry arroyos, there are no crocs to wash in) and a rat (it would have to be a monster). One observer thought it might be due, not to an animal, but to some weird natural geological process. But most observers attribute the tracks to a turtle.

Bruce Rogers, a USGS scientist who had visited the cave in the past, made the following comments: the prints appear to be about 2 to 3 inches in diameter and recessed into the mud about an inch or so. The animals is amphibious, probably weighs about 10 to 18 pounds, is relatively small, and has very short legs. Coupled with the straddle walk, Rogers concludes the tracks were probably made by a troglophillic turtle.

But, Crystal asks, do turtles make bipedal-looking tracks? And don't turtles generally drag their bottoms as they go? There are no drag marks here.

What do you think? Check out the photographs, but don't forget to come back.