Dinosaur and Human Track Excavation at the Paluxy River

Author: Doug Sharp
Subject: Dinosaurs
Date: 10/22/2004
The Revolution Against Evolution team joined Dr. Carl Baugh of the Creation Evidence Museum in an excavation of a dinosaur track sequence on the Paluxy river bank at the
McFall ranch just north of Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, Texas. This dig took place July 5 thru 16, 2004 and we participated in the second week July 12 – 16.
This site is the subject of much controversy and speculation, since there are also many tracks that appear to be human footprints. They are of interest to creationists, since if
dinosaur and human tracks are found together, this would appear to support the creationist idea that dinosaurs lived in recent times, before Noah’s flood, and for some time afterward. Creationists believe that the dragons of legend are the dinosaurs of science, because depictions of such creatures in historical documents often make an
uncanny match to the morphology of known dinosaurs.

Because Dr. Baugh has dedicated much of his research toward the study of these tracks, he is the subject of much attack and scrutiny. There are many anti-Baugh web sites on the Internet, and since Dr. Baugh is the subject of many discussions among creationists and evolutionists alike, I do not wish to rehash any of this controversy here. My interest was to view the track for myself by participating in a dig. I feel that the personal nature of the attacks against the credibility Dr. Baugh are a smokescreen to distract people from the real issues. With or without Dr. Baugh, the tracks have a story to tell, and my interest was to observe and report what we found. In this essay we support Dr. Baugh in regards to what we observed on this particular dig and the evidence from the tracks themselves. He has done research in many other areas that are controversial, and we will not attempt to speak for him regarding those issues.

During the time we were at the excavation, the team uncovered 10 new dinosaur tracks, and one new track that looked like a human slide print. This area had seen previous work by other teams. The excavation we participated in extended the known track sequence to 46 continuous prints. This is one of the longest dinosaur track sequences in North America. The longest sequence in the Western Hemisphere, 136 prints, is the Turnage-Patton trail, found in the middle of the Paluxy river bed, less than a mile from the excavation site.

One of the impressions we got at the dig site was the way the excavation was done in a professional manner. The dig site consisted of a layer of limestone, then a layer of clay, overlying the limestone layer in which the tracks lay. The limestone cap was carefully removed with a jackhammer, exposing the clay layer, which we excavated inch by inch using the chisel end of a masonry hammer, and if a track was found, the clay would be carefully removed with the handle end of a brush that had been sharpened to a point. As the tracks were exposed, each one was measured and documented as to their size and position in relation to each other. The dirt that was removed from the top of the tracks was sifted and examined for fossils. 

Evolutionists accuse Dr. Baugh and his team of “carving” the tracks. Here are the reasons why this could not be the case:
(1) The dig is open to anyone who wishes to sign up, and skeptics are invited to participate. Often families with children participate.
(2) Whenever a new track is found, the uncovering of the track is documented by videotape.
(3) Many people participate in the dig, so that there are many eyewitnesses.
(4) Each track is excavated by several people as a team.
(5) Potential tracks are eliminated from consideration if there are no or few identifying features, such as a heel, toes, push-up marks.
(6) Many of the locals from Glen Rose participate in all of the digs, and provide additional consistent verification.

We were instructed to not call a track “human” unless it exhibited unmistakable human characteristics, such as toes or an arch. Unfortunately, these features are subject to
erosion, and such a find at the Paluxy is quite rare. Several of the best tracks are on display at the Creation Evidence Museum, and the Beverly track (named for Carl Baugh’s
daughter), is one of the best. It is a human impression inside of a dinosaur track, and the human impression shows all of the toes. This track was found at the dig site during an earlier excavation, and the purpose of the excavation was to see if more tracks of that trail could be found. Another similar track was found on the Taylor trail, in the middle of the river bed about a half-mile from the dig site. Another criteria that strengthens the case for a track to be human would be to find it in a sequence of other tracks, and for it to match a human stride. The Taylor trail fits this criteria. The track we found at the dig site did not have these features, and would not help our case, unless it is found to be one of a sequence yet to be established.

We interviewed participants from the previous dig where the “Beverly” track was excavated, and were shown the spot where the track was cut out of the rock strata. They
verified that the same careful excavation methods used in the present dig were followed during the excavation of the “Beverly” track.

Quasi-human tracks actually are quite common at the Paluxy. At the Moss crossing, the Dougherty trail is found next to a good trail of dinosaur tracks, and if you wade out into the river, you can put your feet in them and find that the fit is pretty good. But because these have been exposed for a number of years, the toe features have been eroded away, leaving only heel prints. You can also find quite a few poorly-defined quasi-human tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park, at the spot where you can cross the river on stepping stones. After you cross the river, the tracks are just to the left of where the excavation of several dinosaur prints is roped off. In-situ tracks quickly erode once they are exposed, so researchers, when they find a good track, try to cut it out of the rock, document its position, and preserve it that way. Of course, if this is done, an evolutionist can always say that it was carved, or the documentation was staged, or whatever. But the abundance of quasi-human tracks, in my mind, actually strengthens our position, because that is what you would expect to find if they are real, especially if the people who made these tracks wore moccasins or shoes. We created an experiment where we laid down some mud, created some fresh tracks, and documented how they looked. Even in these fresh tracks, very few of them showed the toes, and many of the tracks after they dried, collapsed and became featureless.

Those participating in Dr. Baugh’s dig can testify that nobody at the dig site is “carving” the tracks, as is the nonsense perpetuated by some evolutionists. We have too many
eyewitnesses verifying the dig technique that will tell you that is not true. We watched ten new dinosaur tracks emerge from underneath one foot of overlying rock,  observed the technique by which they were revealed, and videotaped the procedure. Since we interviewed eyewitnesses by video, testifying that the same procedure was used in excavating the tracks exhibited in the museum, we would say that was strong evidence that the Beverly track, the Taylor trail tracks and others like it were not fabricated. So, would an evolutionist accuse Dr. Baugh of carving the tracks, covering them with dirt and a six-inch layer of limestone, only to be rediscovered again by creationists digging them up? Or would they accuse Dr. Baugh of carving the tracks, especially since he did very little of the excavation work himself? Hardly likely.

Investigations of the Taylor trail by evolutionists concluded a number of years ago that the tracks thought to be human were actually dinosaur tracks. However, the local Texans we interviewed, who know these tracks, say that they have changed in appearance over time, and that might be what you would expect if a human trail actually stepped into dinosaur tracks for a short distance, making a human impression on top of the dinosaur track. In such a case, as the track erodes, the human impression would give way to the dinosaur track. It was this problem that caused the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis to qualify their support for these track being human, basically because the human impressions have eroded to the point that they are not recognizable. 

But it is in error to say that they have abandoned their support for these tracks. This particular dig involved the participation of an Answers in Genesis geologist, and it was
his wife that excavated the quasi-human track. One of the locals, Dave Hall, took our group wading in the river looking for the Taylor trail. This trail is normally exposed at this time of year, but it was a wet summer, and the tracks were covered with silt and one to three feet of water. No photographs of the trail were possible, but the group’s encounter with a water moccasin was quite memorable and you can watch it on video. Also, visit the photo gallery of the dig.

Our conclusion is that the claim for a human origin of the tracks is reasonable to believe. For the creationist, this will never be Class “A” evidence, beyond controversy. None of the tracks we saw in situ would have been incontrovertible evidence that would persuade any die-hard evolutionist. But the circumstantial evidence is compelling to those of us who already are convinced of the young-earth creationist model. We anticipate that further efforts by new digs with Dr. Baugh and other groups will find additional evidence at the Paluxy River.

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