Author: Ron Hastings Title: 'Man Tracks?' (An Expose' of the Paluxy River Footprint Claim)

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

=============================================================================== Author: Ron Hastings Title: "Man Tracks?" (An Expose' of the Paluxy River Footprint Claim) =============================================================================== According to the standard geologic timetable, humans did not appear on earth until approximately 60 million years after dinosaurs became extinct. Nevertheless, for many years claims were made by some strict creationists, and continue to be encouraged by a few individuals, that fossil human footprints or "giant man tracks" occur alongside dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy riverbed near Glen Rose, Texas. Extraordinary claims such as these demand extraordinary evidence, but no such evidence seems to exist. Initial critical work in the early 1970's [l] and more intensive scientific studies of these claims in recent years have convincingly refuted the human track claims and led to their abandonment, even by most creationists. Most of the alleged human tracks occur outside Dinosaur Valley State Park, and involve a variety of phenomena, including indistinct longer-than-usual (elongate) dinosaur tracks, erosional features, and a few carvings. State Park Ledge Only one former "man track" site occurs within the park and consists of erosional features on the surface of a shelf of rock above the main dinosaur track level. Situated across the river from the northwest parking lot, this ledge supposedly contained a variety of "man tracks" that were first publicized by Rev. Stanley Taylor and crew in the late 1960's and later advocated by other "man track" enthusiasts.[2] Careful analysis of the ledge indicates that the "tracks" are merely natural irregularities and erosional features of the weathered surface. Many past "man track" advocates had applied water, oil, or other substances to the markings to encourage the appearance of human print shapes; without this selective artificial highlighting none of the rather oval scoured marks shows clear human features.[3] No regularly paced trail of marks can be found anywhere on the ledge! An alleged "bear track" on the ledge is a similar phenomenon. In fact, no true tracks appear on this ledge. The Taylor Site Located in the riverbed upstream from the park is probably the most publicized "man track" locale (though seldom visited due to frequent inaccessibility) -- the Taylor Site. This site was most often claimed to contain human tracks, beginning with Stanley Taylor's research and film in the late 1960's and early 1970's [4] and continuing with other claims throughout the 1970's and 1980's [5]. The most thorough analyses of this site indicate that the "human" tracks are elongate dinosaur tracks -- made by bipedal dinosaurs that walked down on their soles and heels rather than up on their toes, as is most often the case.[6] When the toe marks of such tracks are obscured by erosion, sediment infilling, or mud-collapse, they often resemble poorly preserved giant human prints. But even the measured dimensions of these tracks and the trails (stride, pace, etc.), are not compatible with human anatomy (giant or otherwise) but are compatible with other dinosaur trails. Color and texture distinctions reveal indisputable dinosaur toes on these tracks, and these features are related to secondary infillings of the original track depressions.[7] Recent claims by Rev. Carl Baugh and Don Patton that same of these tracks have human prints within them have been shown to be invalid.[8] The Baugh/McFall Sites Still further upstream from the Taylor Site and on the riverbank is a series of exposed ledges known as the Baugh/McFall Sites. In the late 1960's and 1970's one trail on one ledge was considered human by some workers [9], but later acknowledged by other creationists to consist of eroded, elongate dinosaur tracks.[10] Since 1982 several other sites along this series have been excavated by Rev. Carl Baugh and associates, who claimed many other "man tracks" there.[11] However, rigorous studies have failed to support such claims. The alleged human tracks on these sites involve several phenomena, including elongate dinosaur tracks and parts thereof; indistinct elongate marks of unknown origin that were not in striding trails; shallow, vague markings in the exposed rock surface or unremoved overlying marl; invertebrate trace fossil patterns; and some markings with evidence of deliberate alteration.[12] Many of these phenomena along the Baugh/McFall Site have been lost to weathering and neglect. Alleged Human and Cat Tracks in Loose Rocks Some loose blocks of rock with human or cat-like prints, reputed to have come from Glen Rose limestone, first appeared during the late 1930's. These tracks were promoted as genuine by some creationists.[13] However, obvious anatomic problems with the prints, knowledge of past carving practices in the Glen Rose area, and problematic cross-sectional features of the blocks, some of which were recently exposed by Carl Baugh and Don Patton, lead most researchers to reject their authenticity.[14] Other Loose Fossils and Artifacts of "Man-Track" Enthusiasts Among the objects claimed by a few to represent "out-of-order" fossils is an alleged fossil "human tooth"' found along the Paluxy in 1987 by Carl Baugh. This tooth has been conclusively shown to be a fish tooth, a fact Baugh and Patton resisted until 1989.[15] A trilobite fossil was reportedly found decades ago in the Paluxy, but was not documented as being part of the riverbed. (A trilobite fossil linked to Glen Rose limestone would be out-of-order, for trilobites did not survive into the Age of Dinosaurs, the Mesozoic Era.) The fossil tests to be from another, older kind of rock than Glen Rose limestone, and so cannot be linked reliably to the riverbed strata.[16] A hammer-in-stone reportedly from a Paleozoic formation near London, Texas, and claimed by Baugh to be the same age as the rock in which the tool is encased, is a concretion around a mining mallet. Such concretions can build up in decades around objects unrelated to the age of the host rock.[I7] Other artifacts have also been claimed by some to be "out-of-order" fossils (such as the "Moab Man" bones found in Utah but brought to Texas by Baugh) but they also are not supported by the evidence. In summary, although genuine dinosaur tracks are abundant in the Paluxy riverbed, claims of human tracks have not withstood close scientific scrutiny, and in recent years have been largely abandoned, even by most creationists. The alleged "man tracks" involve a variety of spurious phenomena, including erosional features, elongate dinosaur prints, ambiguous markings, misinterpreted trace fossils, and a few loose carvings. (Note: Many sites outside Dinosaur Valley State Park are on or alongside private property. Permission should be secured from the respective land owners before visiting such sites. Also, no excavation, damming, or other disturbance in the Paluxy riverbed beyond light sweeping or brushing to clean tracks may be conducted anywhere in the Paluxy riverbed without written permission Of the appropriate authorities, including the Department of Parks and Wildlife, and, inside Dinosaur Valley State Park, the park superintendent.) REFERENCES [1] Neufeld, Berney, 1975, "Dinosaur Tracks and Giant Men," Origins, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp 64-76. [2] Beierle, Fred, 1977, Man, Dinosaurs, and History, Prosser, WA: Perfect Printing Co.; Dougherty, Cecil N., 1979 (sixth edition), Valley of the Giants, Bennett Printing Company, Cleburne, TX; see also ref. 10. Numerous other publications during the 1970's and 1980's also promoted "man track" claims. [3] Farlow, James O., 1987, Lower Cretaceous Dinosaur Tracks, Paluxy River Valley, Texas, SCGSA, Waco, TX. See also ref. 6 and 12. [4] Taylor, Stanley E., 1973, Footprints in Stone, (film), Films for Christ Association (Eden Films), Elmwood IL (now Mesa, AZ). [5] See ref. 1. [6] Kuban, Glen, 1986a, "The Taylor Site 'Man Tracks,'" Origins, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp 1-9; Kuban, Glen, 1986b, "Elongate Dinosaur Tracks," in Gillette, David D. and Lockley, Martin G., eds., Dinosaur Tracks and Traces, 1989, Cambridge University Press Cambridge, pp 57-72; Hastings, Ronnie J., 1988, "The Rise and Fall of the Paluxy Mantracks," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation), Vol. 40, No. 3, pp 144-155. [7] Kuban, Glen, 1986c, "Color Distinctions and Other Curious Features of Dinosaur Tracks Near Glen Rose, Texas," in Gillette, David D. and Lockley, Martin G., eds. Dinosaur Tracks and Traces, 1989, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 427-440; Hastings, Ronnie J., 1987, "New Observations on Paluxy Tracks Confirm Their Dinosaurian Origin," Journal of Geological Education, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp 4-15. [8] Kuban, Glen J., 1989, "Retracking Those Incredible Man Tracks," NCSE Reports, Vol . 9, No. 4, Special Sect ion. [9] Taylor, Stanley E., 1968, Search for Man Tracks in the Paluxy River, Films for Christ Special Report, October; Taylor, Stanley E., 1971, "The Mystery Tracks in Dinosaur Valley," Bible Science Newsletter, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp 1-7. [10] Morris, John D., 1980, Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs, San Diego, CA, Creation-Life Publishers, pp 134-136, 197-198. [11] Baugh, Carl E., 1982, Enemies Survived Together for A While, (videotape), Creation Evidences Museum, Glen Rose, TX; Baugh, Carl, 1987, Dinosaur, Promise Publishing, Orange, CA. Baugh's claims are also repeated in newsletters and tapes distributed by his Creation Evidences Museum. [12] Cole, John R., and Godfrey, Laurie R., eds., 1985, Creation/Evolution, Issue XV, Vol. 5, No. I , pp 16-21. [13] Burdick, Clifford C., "When Giants Roamed the Earth," Signs of the Times, July 25, 1950; Morris, Henry M. and Whitcomb, John C., 1961, The Genesis Flood, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, pp 173-175. [14] See ref. 1 and 12. [15] Hastings, Ronnie J-p 1987, "Creationists' 'Glen Rose Man' Proves to be a Fish Tooth (as Expected)," NCSE Reports, Vol- 9s No. 3, pp 14-15. [16] Hastings, Ronnie J., 1986, "Tracking Those Incredible Creationists: The Trail Continues," Creation/Evolution, Issue XVII, pp 19-27; Hastings, Ronnie J., 1987, "Tracking Those Incredible Creationists: The Trail Goes On," Creation/Evolution, Issue XXI, pp 30-42. [17] Cole, John R., 1985, "If I Had a Hammer," Creation/Evolution, Issue XV, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp 46-47.

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank