The Paluxy ichnofossils were considered to be powerful evidence that men and dinosaurs coexisted. Over time, the exposed prints became quite eroded and evolutionists argued that they were merely elongated dinosaur footprints that had experienced infilling.
Most evolutionist are now inclined to agree that the famous Taylor Trail was made by a dinosaur, though some point to the mixture of human and dinosaur characteristics as evidence that the tracks are a composite, the human track superimposed upon the existing dinosaur footprints. (See Robert Helfinstine and Jerry Roth’s 1994 book Texas Tracks and Artifacts.)
Despite creation geologist such as Dr. Clifford Burdock who believed the tracks to be authentic, over time, the lack of clarity regarding these original “man-tracks” of the finds prompted leading creationists to cease using the Paluxy footprints as evidence. Dr. Carl Baugh has attempted to show authenticity with original excavations under the limestone layers. Any new footprint under 12-14” of limestone would indeed rule out a hoax. It is the interpretation of the footprint that then comes into question.
I have personally studied this area in Glen Rose attending original excavations for 20 yrs and studying the old trails including interviewing some of the old timers who was still alive. In 2000, I personally helped discover the Upper Taylor Platform in which a trail of footprints were discovered. Ian Juby & I have new scientific evidence in the Taylor Trail that will challenge the 1980s accepted theory.
Since then additional tracks, like the Delk Track, came to light, providing much clearer evidence although granted the artifact is not in situ which is disappointing. Nevertheless, it is instructive to consider that these Paluxy footprints are much more distinct than Mary Leakey’s famous Laoetoli Track in Tanzania, which is universally accepted as hominid! The limestone beds of the Paluxy River are thought by evolutionists to be 120 million years old. Milne and Schafersman admit, “Such an occurrence, if verified, would seriously disrupt conventional interpretations of biological and geological history and would support the doctrines of creationism and catastrophism.” (Milne, and Schafersman, 1983, “Dinosaur Tracks, Erosion Marks and Midnight Chisel Work (But No Human Footprints) in the Cretaceous Limestone of the Paluxy River Bed, Texas,” Journal of Geological Education, Vol. 31, pp. 111-123.)
None of us were there to witness the footprints actual origins. We can’t go back and see them formed or recreate their formation in that exact rock as a “test” of their authenticity. Does this mean though that we can simply ignore the footprints? No, that would be unscientific to presume we don’t see them at all. We can however test both the human origin of the footprints and the age of these footprints. We do so via observations made in the present, inference and prediction.
The presence of impressions in the limestone rock are facts. One could argue that even those facts are subject to interpretation and bias. Documentation, photography, and in situ tracks could be fake and all the people who saw them could be lying about having seen them. The impressions could also have been misinterpreted as being human footprints.
Since we can test if they are human footprints, other creationist seem to ignore problematic data by making sweeping overall conclusions without considering the scientific data. It is true most who fall in this category have never scientifically studied the site first hand nor have they attended original excavations which are open to the public. So this is just untrustworthy conclusions based on faulty presumptions.
Is it reasonable then assume that the Glen Rose footprints are not authentic ? Not at all. We can scientifically compare the Glen Rose footprints with hundreds of studies that have been done on impressions and preservation in mud and comparison with hundreds of other footprints of humans and other organisms in rock. And we have. All of those comparisons point, beyond reasonable doubt, to these being authentic human footprints. The research paper associated with this story has been released and available for anyone to read (Hominin Footprints from Early Pleistocene Deposits at Happisburgh, UK, in PlosOne). This paper includes details about how they assessed the footprints and determined the origin and age of the persons who made them.
And while your there, check out these as well.
There is another conclusion in which historical science can quite confidently make. These same eroding cliffs along the Paluxy have long been a popular site for collecting index fossils such as the famous fossil clams. The Glen Rose formation consists mostly of hard limestone strata alternating with marl or marly limestone, but is replaced by sandy facies shoreward (to the northwest). Because of the differing strengths of the layers, the limestone weathers to form a staircase profile on hills.
(E.H. Sellards, W.A. Adkins & F.B. Plummer, The Geology of Texas, Univ. of Texas Bull. No. 3232 (1932 and many later reprints), pp. 315-316.)
These strata were originally referred to as the “Alternating Beds”, which term included the overlying Fredericksburg formations.
These fossils are obtained from the sediments ABOVE and in the SAME layer of the footprints which includes the dinosaur tracks. Young earth creationists claim that historical science is subject to interpretation because of presuppositional bias. Yes, that may be true.
The question remains. Could the sediments and fossils above and in the same rock layers with the footprints could be deposited earlier than the footprints? Absolutely not. Clearly we can have a high degree of confidence based on observations of present sedimentary processes that the layers above the footprints were deposited just hours after the footprints had been made. This scientific observation in geology strengthens the authenticity for the footprints.
The creationists timeline constantly finds itself at odds with evolutionary theory. The Young Earth model can easily accommodate new fossil footprints find like this which is a hallmark of a well supported global evidence. The Old Earth model &/or evolutionary theory of origins must appeal to ad hoc hypotheses or claims of bias in interpretation to avoid the rather simple and obvious interpretation of the observations of ichnofossils such as these footprints in Glen Rose.
The challenge to the creation model posed by the footprints is not the footprints themselves but what it implies. Even if only 0.01% of all footprints left by dinosaurs, mammals and humans were preserved, the geological record would have abundant footprints. And it does! That fossilization of footprints can happen is obvious once you become familiar with the footprint record. After all, there are human footprints found in numerous places in the world (see the article: Human Fossil Footprints found below Ice Age Deposits) and my book, “Evolution & Human Fossil Footprints”.
Other sources have written about preserved footprints many times and discussed how they challenge the accepted evolutionary geology. The preservation of footprints, just like all other fossils is a very rare event and does require a fortuitous set of circumstances to occur. A recent discovery shows just how such a fortuitous circumstance has occurred.
Near Tucson Arizona construction of a new road revealed an archaeological discovery. Dozens of human footprints were found preserved in what was a field more than 2500 years ago (local story LINK).
The footprints reveal that several adults and a young infant were working a small field. A dog was also accompanying them. They left their footprints in the thick mud of the field. It appears that soon after leaving the field, it was flooded by a nearby creek which brought in a layer of sediment with a different composition of material. At that point the field may have been abandoned and more layers of sediments deposited over the years. While the sediments have not been fully converted rock, the process of cementation has already begun producing layers that resists erosion and separate from other layers with different compositions. Thus they were able to remove the layer above the footprints revealing the field as it was before they were preserved. This is not unlike what we see in thousands of other locations that footprints are found and this is exactly what we see with the Glen Rose fossil footprints.
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” – John Adams