Dinosaurs and Human Footprints
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In 1908 a violent flood ripped through the Paluxy River Valley, near Glen Rose, Texas. The next summer, a local teenager named Ernest "Bull" Adams was wandering in a tributary of the Paluxy called Wheeler Branch, when he came upon a series of large, three-toed footprints in the limestone floor of the creek.
Around 1910, another local youth named Charlie Moss and his brother Grady were fishing in the Paluxy River itself when they came across a trail of three-toed dinosaur tracks on a limestone shelf, along with a series of even more curious, oblong footprints. Described by Charlie as "giant man tracks," these large, elongate footprints (typically 15-18 inches long) were as yet unknown to geologists, but evidently were soon accepted as genuine human footprints by many of the townspeople. For many years most locals seemed to regard these tracks as minor curiosities evidently not realizing that the immense scientific implications of finding human and dinosaur footprints in the same rocks. Indeed, if confirmed, such a find would dramatically contradict the standard geologic timetable, which holds that dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago, whereas the first human remains are only a few million years old (a gap of over 60 million years). Moreover, the track beds in Glen Rose are now assigned by mainstream geologists to the lower part of the Cretaceous period, at or near the Aptian/Albian boundary, dated at about 113 million years (Young, 1974; Bergan and Pittman, 1990).
In the 1930's at least one Glen Rose resident, Jim Ryals, began chiseling out dinosaur tracks from the riverbed, and selling them to tourists and passersby (Bird, 1954). Ryals also reportedly cut out some "human" prints, but evidently no one took photographs of them, and their present locations are unknown.
Around the same time another local resident, George Adams (Ernest Adams’ brother), is known to have carved and sold at least several "giant man tracks" and dinosaur tracks on loose slabs of rock. George's nephew Wayland once even related his uncle's carving technique to a group of creationist researchers, noting that his uncle would start with a suitable sized block already containing a depression, and then carve in human features at his leisure under the shade of a tree (Morris, 1980, p. 110-126). Evidently this technique involved less chance of breakage than chiseling and transporting real tracks from the riverbed, and allowed one to readily add print details that were typically indistinct or lacking on real prints. On the other hand, Adams was evidently handicapped by his limited carving skill; of the several loose "man tracks" which still exist and are generally attributed to him, all show serious anatomic errors, including misplaced ball and arch, and excessively long, misshapen toes.
In 1938 with help from locals, paleontologist Roland T. Bird, located a number of three-toed dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy riverbed. Although Bird never reported any real human tracks in the Paluxy Riverbed, his writings would inadvertently lead to the spread of the "man track" claims. In one of his articles Bird mentioned the carved "man tracks" that led him to Glen Rose, as well as rumors from locals that "giant man tracks" could be found in the Paluxy riverbed itself. Bird related that when he asked Jim Ryals to show him such tracks in the riverbed, Ryals could only show him a single specimen, which Bird referred to as a "mystery track." Bird described this as, "something about 15 inches long, with a curious elongated heel." Noting that the print was too indistinct to diagnose precisely, Bird suggested that it was made by some "hitherto unknown dinosaur or reptile"
Among the first creationist advocates of the "man track" claims was Clifford Burdick, who helped found the Deluge Society, one of the first creationist groups in America. After a brief visit to the Paluxy, Burdick published an article in the Seventh Day Adventist magazine, Signs of the Times, proclaiming that the Paluxy contained clear human and dinosaur footprints, and that this dramatically refuted evolution while supporting the belief in a recent Creation and the formation of the fossil record during Noah’s Flood. By interweaving Bird's comments about carved tracks with those referring to dinosaur tracks in the riverbed, Burdick implied that Bird himself had reported and excavated genuine human tracks from the Paluxy.
In the early 1960's the Paluxy "man tracks" became more widely known when photographs of the same loose carvings were featured in the landmark creationist book The Genesis Flood by John Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris (1961, p. 173-175). Like Burdick, Whitcomb and Morris suggested that these slabs were genuine "giant" human footprints known to have been excavated from the Paluxy riverbed--relying heavily on out-of-context statements by Roland Bird. A few years later, another creationist, A. E. Wilder-Smith, briefly visited the Paluxy at Burdick's invitation. In his subsequent 1965 book Mans Origin, Man's Destiny, Wilder-Smith followed the example of previous creationist authors in making strong "man track" claims based largely on inaccurate representations of Roland Bird’s work and writings.
Footprints in Stone (Taylor, 1972) was a film by Stanley Taylor, a Baptist minister who owned a small apologetics film company called Films for Christ. In the film, Taylor strongly encouraged the human track interpretations, even suggesting that several prints showed human-like toes. Some of the supposed "man tracks" occurred on a rock ledge in what is now Dinosaur Valley State park. However, the film focused most heavily on an area now known as the "Taylor Site," containing a deep dinosaur trail and several reputedly human trails, some of which Taylor's team reportedly excavated from under previously undisturbed rock strata. For many years the film was shown to schools, churches, and creationist groups throughout America, helping to widely spread the Paluxy "man track" claims.
In October of 1985 Glen J. Kuban invited John Morris of ICR and Paul Taylor (now running the film company founded by his deceased father, Stan), to revisited the Alfred West site and Taylor Site, When Kuban pointed out to them the various metatarsal dinosaur tracks at the Alfred West site, and their similar but largely infilled counterparts at the Taylor Site, Morris and Taylor expressed concern that they had made serious errors in the past. Taylor stated that he would stop circulating Footprints in Stone, and Morris indicated that he would probably stop selling his book.
Claims of human tracks occurring alongside dinosaur tracks in Texas have not stood up to close scientific scrutiny, and in recent years have been largely abandoned even by most creationists. Although genuine dinosaur tracks are abundant in Texas, the alleged Paluxy "man tracks" involve a variety of misidentified phenomena. The most celebrated "man tracks" on the Taylor Site are forms of "metatarsal" dinosaur tracks--made by dinosaurs which, at least at times, made elongate prints by impressing their metatarsi (soles and heels) as they walked, rather than walking on their toes only. When the digit marks on such elongate/metatarsal tracks are subdued by sediment infilling, mud- collapse, erosion, or a combination of factors, the metatarsal segment at the rear often presents an oblong shape that roughly resembles a large human footprint. Other alleged "man tracks" include erosional features and indistinct markings of uncertain origin, some of which were enhanced with water or oil at times to appear more human, or even physically altered in some cases. A smaller number of "man tracks" are outright carvings (mostly on loose blocks of rock).
In the December 1988 issue of ICR's Acts and Facts, John Morris explained that he had returned to the Paluxy this past September to investigate "new evidence" gathered by Carl Baugh and Don Patton. Although Baugh and Patton acknowledge that the Taylor Trail is dinosaurian, they now are proposing that a human being followed the same trail, leaving a human print inside each dinosaur track.
Morris' article is an unfortunate sign for young earth creationism. It indicates an unwillingness to fully abandon past claims (no matter how well-refuted), and a return to the same kind of faulty research, deficient documentation, and inaccurate reporting that fostered the Paluxy mess in the first place. Instead of helping to set the record straight on the Paluxy issue, Morris' article undoubtedly will contribute to the spread of new misinformation among creationists and the public at large. Already some creationists are calling for the film Footprints in Stone to be reinstated. Evidently little if anything was learned from past mistakes.
Those "footprints" in the Paluxy river bed are NOT human. A simple observation of the tracks reveal that while an arch is present forward of the heel, there are only three toes. If a track is observed which is uneroded, webbing is visible between the toes. A special on NOVA allowed these tracks to be visible to millions.
I wonder. Is it assumed that a man tracking a dino would be barefoot? What would the footprint of a man wearing leather 'moccasins' look like? Might they appear to be web-footed? Perhaps there might be a toe or two sublimated by the moccasin skin. I wonder. Is the issue as settled as many would have us believe? After all, if it is so conclusively not man-prints, what creature did make the prints? I don't think any one really knows for sure.
Much of the text above consists of excerpts from "On the Heels of Dinosaurs" by Glen J. Kuban found on