Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Human/Dinosaur Fossil Footprint Hardly Convincing

A recent story out of Mineral Wells, Texas (that's right, Texas again) is reporting that a former resident of the east Texas town just west of Forth Worth has recently re-discovered an alleged fossilized human footprint underneath that of a large, therapod (T-Rex-like) dinosaur. Alvis Delk, 72, found the slab of alleged limestone containing the commingled footprints in July of 2000 at a creek near the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, located about 53 miles south of Fort Worth.

"
The limestone contains two distinct prints – one of a human footprint and one belonging to a dinosaur. The significance of the cement-hard fossil is that it shows the dinosaur print partially over and intersecting the human print."

Delk, a longtime amateur archaeologist (read: not a real archaeologist), was searching for Native-American artifacts near the river with two friends when he saw a pile of rocks along the bank. Further investigation of the pile revealed a fossilized dinosaur footprint embedded in a chunk of limestone. While Delk claimed he had seen dinosaur prints before, he has never found one he has been able to take home with him. So, with the help of his companions, Delk hauled the chunk of rock back home where he sat on the find for eight years. He kept it in his collection, which, Delk claims, contains over 100,000 Native American artifacts.

After suffering a fall from a ladder eight months ago, Delk decided to try to sell some of his collection to pay for his resulting medical bills. He dusted off the piece of limestone, hoping to sell it to the Creation ( as in biblical creation) Evidence Museum in Glen Rose. As Delk cleaned up the specimen, he discovered a human-looking footprint underneath the dinosaur track. From the article:

“'I seen the (human) track coming out and (saw) that it was a man,' Delk said. 'I thought to myself, ‘Lord, I’ve been shown man was here when the dinosaur was here.’”"

Delk took his find to Dr. Carl Baugh, founder and director of the Creation Evidence Museum. Dr. Baugh claims doctorates in theology and philosophy in education in addition to a master’s degree in archeology. A little digging of my own found that "Dr." Baugh received every one of his degrees (except one in theology from Baptist Bible College in 1959) from unaccredited universities. Perhaps the most laughable of those is his master's in archeology from Pacific International University, an institution he started himself.

Anyway, back to the fossil human footprint farce. Baugh said he is confident about the authenticity of Delk's specimen, undoubtedly using his "expertise" in archeology winnowed from hard years at Pacific International. Baugh claims he took the chunk of rock to a medical lab at Glen Rose Medical Center, where he said 800 X-rays were performed in a CT scan procedure.

“'The compression lines, the density features, do show, and there is no way to fake that,' Baugh said. 'It is possible to carve a track in limestone. But there is no way to compress the material in the rock under the track. That is absolutely impossible. That’s why the CAT scans are so important.'"

Baugh goes on to list other aspects of the print which he thinks prove its authenticity:

"He said the scans demonstrate the human footprint was made 'during locomotion. That’s very important. That distribution is shown here. Compression is in the right place under both prints. Density. Compression, distribution. The density factor is there. Weight distribution. Forward locomotion, rocking of the foot.'"

However, no where in the article is the most basic tenant of Baugh and Delk's claims questioned: is the piece of rock even limestone? There is not one credible geological or archaeological expert in the entire piece quoted to vouch for the limestone's authenticity. Fortunately, Baugh has offered to put his reputation (however already tarnished) on the line: he is willing to subject the specimen to any non-destructive tests. Now that I would like to see.

Baugh continues on with his fairytale by claiming the dinosaur track is from an Acrocanthosaurus, a carnivorous dinosaur that existed primarily in North America during the mid-Cretaceous Period, approximately 125 million to 100 million years ago. For comparison, let's look at an actual Acrocanthosaur track (which I found here) and Baugh's specimen:












In case anyone is having a hard time figuring it out, the real dinosaur track is on the left. How the hell can Baugh or Delk expect to have themselves taken seriously? And why is the big toe impression on the "human"track so deep? It looks like it was formed with a tent pole.

Although Baugh offers no evidence for this claim, he apparently believes both sets of prints were made “within minutes, or no more than hours of each other” about 4,500 years ago, around the time of Noah’s Flood. Based on what? Has the specimen been dated? The article doesn't say so.

Another telling quote revealing what the true intentions and beliefs of these men are is attributed to James Bishop, one of the friends who was with Delk when he first found the "footprint."

"A man of Christian beliefs who is a member of the First Assembly of God Church in Stephenville, Bishop said his hopes are that the stone will 'disprove Darwin’s theory. God made man. Man did not evolve from ape.'"

Ah yes, a faked fossil footprint disproving a scientific theory that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny for over 100 years. Tortured, creationist logic, how I missed you.

Another creationist the article digs up (no pun intended) to vouch for the specimen's authenticity is David Lines, a technical writer for Texas Instruments in Dallas. Lines photographed the rock for Baugh's website, creationevidence.org.

"'When I saw this, I said this is too good to be true,' said Lines. 'If someone found a way to fake that, they could also get a patent for concrete that would far surpass anything.'"

So, it's clear now that the chunk of rock in question must be a fake. Still have doubts? Think about this: why did Delk wait eight years to even closely examine this thing? He said himself he had never found any dinosaur track that he had been able to take home. That suggests that this footprint would have been the only one in his collection. You'd think even a 72-year-old who prides himself on being an amateur archaeologist would find some time to examine such a rare find, especially in a time span of eight freakin' years!

So the question would be: why wait until now? I think it may have a little to do with the recent renewal of talks in the Texas State Board of Education about the "weaknesses" in evolution. To further support this hypothesis, I present to you the final quote attributed to Baugh:

“I don’t think it is going to displace the theory of evolution,” said Baugh. “My hope is that the scientific concepts of archeology and paleontology will be used under the guidelines of the Texas schoolbook committee. Any evidence supporting that should be presented, and hopefully this particular fossil will be presented, for the students to be able to see that there is evidence supporting an alternative concept as opposed to just evolution.”

But, I leave to final decision up to my readers. Either a fossil footprint was found that will turn all the science behind the theory of evolution on its head, or it is a forgery perpetrated by at least two men who would have their twisted dogma taught to school children as fact.

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23 comments:

texmom said...

Personally, I don't think evolution or creationism should be taught "as fact". I think different viewpoints can be presented, and let the kids make their own minds up....or better yet, go on to a career in trying to come up with more proof themselves (either way).
I am not unconvinced that there could be validity to this but not convinced either, by any means. I would like to see many different experts examine it, hopefully without an agenda either way.
I am sick of science, news, etc. all being clouded by people's various agendas.

ChristianFAQed said...

How do you explain the x-rays that show compression underneath the prints?

You can laugh at their credentials all you want but I didn't see one piece of evidence in this article that actually dealt with the fossil itself.

The x-rays of it showed compression underneath the prints which shows it was pressed. If it was carved there would be no compression. So please elaborate on why the compression exists if it is a fake.

Jeremy said...

christianfaqed,

As I mentioned in the post, there are no experts quoted in the article to validate the claim that the chunk of rock is even limestone. So, the fakers could have used concrete, made the two impressions, waited for it to dry, then made the rock up to look like limestone. They also could have altered the mixture of concrete itself so it would dry with a tan/brown color.

paleo said...

Jeremy's comments on the Delk Print are (pardon the expression) on the right track. I've written a fairly detailed critique of the specimen and added it to my Paluxy website. It's the first link at:

http://paleo.cc/paluxy.htm

Glen K

paleo said...

I think my Delk Print critique at http://paleo.cc/paluxy.htm
answers Christianfaqed question, but to briefly address that point here... If the slab already contained some impressions (but no clear human track), we would expect the scans to show evidence of this. But that would not mean all the details, like the small toes, were real. They could have been added to existing, nonhuman depressions. Indeed, I see no evidence in the scans of deformation under each of the individual "little toes." So the scans do not, as far as I can see, prove the "human" print genuine, and several other lines of evidence point to its being carved or heavily altered.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. A recent Roger Ebert (yes, the film critic) commentary on his Chicago Sun-Times Web site, which is a summary of why creationism is true (according to him), pictures the footprint as fact. There's no place to add comments, so there's no place to introduce a rational, skeptical view, and people love to believe a good story more than they like the truth.

Anonymous said...

There has been varying instances of coal which when excavated at great depths contained 'human' artifacts (jewelry, household items etc) embedded and fossilized according to Michael Cremo.

The truth makes us seem stupid. Such is life. The emperor has no clothes. You've just been lead to believe you are an emperor and 'control' your destiny. The real culprit is the charlatan tailor who weaved the clothes in your mind that you were matter and atoms and not pure spirit and consciousness you are. Seek them out, they are moneyed interests controlling your perception of the world so that they may sell you their products like cattle at the feeding trough.

What is evolution; but a thought-form? To hang on to something with dogged determination is to be scared of opening yourself to ridicule, your own. While I'm here I might as well tell you I think that there have been multiple iterations of human beings. The moon and mars were inhabited. I know this because I'm east Indian and can correlate all the ancient myths from here with the Mayas and Egyptians. I highly recommend 'The Terra Papers' as a start.

Furthermore, if you knew my credentials and change I've come to you'd just shake your head and not believe me. Anyhow, thats for another time. I wish you well in your search for the truth. I love you.

Anonymous said...

Show this or other proof for scientific scurtiny,but ofc they wont,im tired of this creatonist bull,put up or shut up.
Constant downright lies,and making me seriously think about their stupid claims,im beginning to really hate these nuts.

Ralph said...

I think that intelagent design and evolution go hand in hand and that both the evolusionists and the intelagent design supporters need to work together at proving or disproving these theories, as they are just theories on both sides. As for the human foot prints alongside of dinosaur foot prints who's to say that we as humans have not evolved to a point where we could design workers of our own kind or something to that end and then been wipped out and a million years latter to start all over again and so on. The point is we just don't no, we need to dig deeper and work together to come to the proper answer, bickering will not solve the mistery it will only slow down our finding out the truth.

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Anonymous said...

I don't think he should be digging up and taking home any rock pieces with possible fossilized prints in them. That sort of debunks what could have been an amazing discovery. They should be left where they were found; just take photos and make note of where they are located. There is a place close to my home where very well defined set of human shoe-prints are embedded in limestone, but that location and the photos I have will remain personal, to be shared with friends and family. I wont stoop so low as to show the photos to a paleontologist, only to have them say "I'm not really seeing anything" here.

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