“Old Three Toes — The Giant Penguin of Clearwater Beach, Florida”

That’s the title of an article at the always interesting Old Salt Blog.  It brings us a piece of folklore I’d never heard before.

On a morning in February 1948, a local beachcomber was walking the beautiful white sand beach in Clearwater, FL, and was shocked to find large three-toed footprints in the sand coming out of the Gulf of Mexico. The tracks were large, 14 inches long and 11 inches wide, made a deep impression in the sand, and were widely spaced. Whatever made the tracks appeared to be heavy and very large. The tracks went on for close to two miles before returning to the water.

The tracks kept appearing on local beaches and created a considerable sensation.

. . .

Flash forward 40 years. In 1988, Clearwater resident, Tony Signorini, admitted that he and a prankster friend, Al Williams, had left the mysterious tracks all those years ago. A reporter from the St.Pete Times went to Signorini’s auto shop to interview him, and, while she was there, he showed her a pair of very large, cast-iron feet with three toes.

Signorini and Williams began by making plaster casts of what they interpreted as dinosaur feet, but the plaster was too light to make much of an impression on the sand. So, they had the feet cast in iron at a local blacksmith shop.

They bolted the cast iron feet to a pair of high-top tennis shoes, then loaded them into a rowboat and went to shallow water not far from shore, where Signorini would put the dino-feet on and wade out of the water.

To make the tracks so far apart, Signorini would balance on one foot, swinging the opposite leg back and forth to work up the momentum to make a jump to the other foot. Since each of the metal objects weighed about 30 pounds, the feat took some time and some stamina.

There’s more at the link, including a photograph of the “footprints” in question.

That was an ingenious and effective scheme.  Apparently people were taken in by it for many years.  One can only applaud the pranksters’ ingenuity.

However, I’m still wondering how the person(s) who made the metal “feet” was/were persuaded not to talk about it.  It must have been one of their more unusual work requests!

Perhaps the pranksters paid them enough to give them paws for thought?



  1. Aside from the energy expended, that must have taken some time and money, including some "stay mum" money. A perfect crime, except of course, there was no crime.

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