Science in Christian Perspective



The Rise and Fall of the Paluxy Mantracks


Science Department
Waxahachie High School
Waxahachie, TX 75165

From: PSCF 40 (September 1988): 144-154.        Response            Link to 1999 update

A history of the creationist claims that mantracks exist alongside those of dinosaurs in lower Cretaceous limestone along the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, is a record of revolutionary claims with questionable evidential support, to say the least. Often fraught with non-scientific motives, mantrack enthusiasts have exhibited irresponsible and inexplicable methods. The scientific investigations of the mantrack claims, which began as early as 1980 and which culminated in strict "young-earth" creationists "backing off 'from their claims in 1986, have resulted in unexpected insights into dinosaurs and dinosaurian trace fossils.

The story of creationist claims of human tracks alongside those of dinosaurs in Lower Cretaceous limestone exposed by the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, is important to anyone interested in the issues of the so-called creation/evolution "controversy." The reasons include:

(1) Paluxy creationist mantrack claims are mostly unambiguous and are scientifically investigable. Unlike so many issues involving origins, some paleontological scenario is not necessary in order to determine if observable mantracks presently exist.

(2) The mantrack claims include one of the few positive examples of research carried on by antievolutionary, young-earth creationist adherents of flood geology. They therefore constitute a refreshing respite from the deluge of anti-evolutionary "library research" so characteristic of modern, strict creationism; a deluge often fraught with irresponsible or, at least, questionable practices.

(3) Claims of mantracks are not shrouded in a high degree of technicality, nor dependent upon mathematical sophistication. Therefore, the issues and even many details of the claims can be appreciated and understood by scientists and interested laypersons alike.

(4) It is abundantly clear that the Paluxy mantrack claims reach into the intersection of science and religion, and as such involve the relation between science and Christian faith. The plethora of scientific areas involved, including paleontology, geology, and anthropology, is mixed with the religious issues of biblical interpretation, flood geology, and, for fundamentalists, the "threat" of "evolutionary philosophy.

(5) As a result of the point above, the mantrack claims can be seen as a concrete, paradigm case addressing a wide variety of issues associated with the creation/evolution "controversy." In turn, insights into the nature of scientific inquiry and its unexpected directions can result, as well as insights into the relationship of that inquiry with religious beliefs in an anti-evolutionary context.

I will give a very brief history of the mantrack Claims, showing how they were scientifically resolved and recently laid to rest for most observers. Though opinionated commentary will be kept at a minimum, questions concerning the curious combination of reluctant participation and widespread interest in the mantrack "saga" will be addressed.

Outline of the Mantrack Claims and Early Investigations

Though known in the early part of the twentieth century (Schuler, 1917), dinosaur tracks in the river bed of the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas were given scientific notoriety by paleontologist Roland T. Bird (1939,1954). While working for the American Museum of Natural History in the late 1930's, Bird reported the presence of unusually elongated tracks among those of dinosaurs in the Paluxy River southwest of Ft. Worth (Bird, 1985). Primarily stated to keep high the interest of his benefactor Harry Sinclair (Bird, 1985; Godfrey & Cole, 1986; Farlow, 1987), Bird had no idea his words would be taken by creationist Clifford Burdick as a guarded admission that there were mantracks in addition to those of dinosaurs (Burdick, 1950). Bird saw all genuine fossilized tracks along the Paluxy as saurian, no matter how unusual, as he could account for the unusual ones through natural track distortion or through dinosaurs wading through deep water. To Burdick and other creationists advocating flood geology and a young earth (as earlier espoused by George McCready Price), these alleged "mantracks" contemporaneous with dinosaurs were the death knell to the evolutionary consensus and geological column of the scientific community. What had led Bird to the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas was a set of carvings of human-like prints and a dinosaur print. Bird had dismissed the human likenesses as nothing more than carvings, but the dinosaur carving convinced him that the artist had to have a real saurian footprint as a model (Godfrey & Cole, 1986). Burdick, who failed to find genuine mantracks along the Paluxy, obtained the human-like carvings, considered them genuine, and their photos appeared in creationist literature, such as Whitcomb and Morris' The Genesis Flood (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961).

Despite the years of work by Bird and other scientists which suggested the variety of shapes into which dinosaur tracks could be eroded or distorted, and despite the fact-that Burdick's carvings were indicative of other carvings that local Glen Rose residents were known to have carved during the years of the Depression and beyond, the mantrack claims apparently lived on among creationists upon the basis of local testimony which described the curious isolated depressions and some trails as "mantracks." Apparently any oblong depression of roughly human proportions, natural or carved, was considered human by early anti-evolutionary mantrack enthusiasts.

Upon the basis of this testimony, the Reverend Stanley Taylor investigated the early mantrack claims, as did chiropractor Dr. Cecil Dougherty (1971). These claims featured the unveiling, in the early 1970's, of new "mantracks" close to one of the earliest examples of "mantracks," a trail of elongated depressions known as the Ryals trail (S. Taylor, 1968, 1970b, 1971). In addition to isolated depressions called human tracks on a ledge in Dinosaur Valley State Park, four "human" trails were claimed-the Giant Run, the Turnage trail, the Ryals trail, and the most famous one, the Taylor trail. These were featured rather fleetingly in Taylor's film "Footprints in Stone," distributed by Films for Christ (formerly Eden Films) (S. Taylor, 1970a). This film brought notoriety to the creationist mantrack claims throughout the community of anti-evolutionists and set the precedent of avoiding the criticism that the "mantracks" were carved fakes, fraudulently altered dinosaur tracks, or erosion marks by uncovering previously unexposed tracks.

Many creationist organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), the Creation Research Society (CBS), and the Bible Science Association (BSA) seized upon "Footprints in Stone" as a primary vehicle for promoting their views during the 1970's (J. Morris, 1976). Some creationist investigators such as Beierle (1974, 1977) and Fields (1980) attested to most of the claims of the film and added a few claims of their own. But others, such as Busch (1971) and an investigative team from Loma Linda University featuring Berney Neufeld (1975), indicated that the Taylor trail tracks (of which casts were taken) were more likely dinosaurian than human, and that the park ledge tracks were merely erosional features. One group of witnesses at the filming of "Footprints in Stone" refused to be filmed attesting to the humanity of the prints of the Taylor trail because of indications of saurian digits at the front of some of the prints (Westcott, 1987). Nonetheless John Morris of the ICR, son of Henry Morris, compiled a history of pro-mantrack claims in his book Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs, and the Men Who Knew Them, (TTID, 1980) which became the other primary vehicle of the mantrack claims. It is not clear why, in the creationist community, the claims were not presented with more balance, recognizing more criticisms such as those of the Loma Linda investigations. Nor is it clear why, in the absence of such balance, the critical creationist investigations did not seek to be heard within the creationist community to offset the positions of the ICR, CBS, and BSA.

In 1980 independent investigators Glen Kuban and Tim Bartholomew studied several sites along the Paluxy. They took some castings of the Taylor trail tracks but did not initially publish their conclusions and observations. Kuban had come to the Paluxy in 1980 hoping to find clear evidence of human prints, and planning on more carefully documenting them than Reverend Taylor had done (Golden, 1986a). But he soon saw in the dry river bed at the Taylor site, thanks to the unusually hot and dry summer of that year, measurements and other puzzling features of the tracks. The tracks measured like dinosaur prints, only they had heel-like depressions and were too long for normal dinosaur tracks. Moreover, there were often shallow indentations where saurian, not human, toes would be. The more he documented these observations, the more Kuban felt frustrated when he saw creationist maps of the site incomplete, inaccurate, and noncorrelating. In subsequent years of writing and talking to creationist investigators of the Taylor site, Kuban found more discrepancies than clarifications. No one had seemed to ask the questions he had about the "too long" tracks that looked saurian. Before long, Kuban was inquiring into dinosaur rather than human locomotion. By 1982 Kuban had developed the idea that the elongated tracks of the Taylor trail could have been made by dinosaurs walking with their soles and/or heels touching, rather than in the more usual manner upon their toes.

Meanwhile, mainstream scientists who had studied in Bird's footsteps throughout the years along the Paluxy tended not to address the mantrack claims because they did not want to be associated with the questionable scientific work of many of the creationists; also, because many interactions with the mantrack enthusiasts soon showed that they wanted from the

This film [ "Footprints in Stone"] brought notoriety to the creationist mantrack claims throughout the community of anti-evolutionists.

scientists only verification of what they believed to be the case, not a discussion of the evidence. Often such relative silence was interpreted as assent to the mantrack claims, which played into the hands of the 11 mantrackers," who presented themselves to creationist sympathizers as "Galileos" shunned by the scientific establishment's "priesthood"-"priests" who could not dispute the mantracks.

The mantrack claims of Taylor and Morris were not addressed as a major issue in the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation during the 1970's and early 1980's. Aulie dismissed the claims upon professional testimony (1975), and LaBar analyzed some of their photographic evidence (1973). But it was clear that some readers of the journal thought the mantrack claims were legitimate issues to be addressed by the ASA (Vosler, 1975; Bradley, 1979). Such ambiguity fitted Nelkin's analysis of the ASA as reluctant to take positions, specializing in "compromise" and "moderation" (Nelkin, 1982, pp. 77-78).

The early 1980's marked creationist efforts to entrench their eroded coverage of evolution in public school textbooks (Skoog in Zetterberg, 1983) which were focused in states such as California and Texas, the latter of which had seen such erosion since 1974 (Schafersman, 1982). Efforts to dilute coverage of evolution in texts, such as the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) series, were in reaction to improved textbooks produced in the wake of Sputnik (Hastings, 1983). Though sometimes not directly described in creationist positions, the mantrack claims as extolled by "Footprints in Stone" and TTID were cited as the "smoking gun" evidence justifying "equal knowing of Kuban's earlier work, many scientists felt time" for both evolution and "creation science" in public school science classrooms.

In reaction to these efforts, the mainstream scientific community began a long list of publications covering the plethora of issues involving the creationist assault on evolution and the geologic column. Those dealing with these issues included excellent collections of essays (Godfrey, 1983; Wilson, 1983; Zetterberg, 1983; Montagu, 1984; Awbry & Thwaites, 1984; Hanson, 1986), and works of individuals concentrating on mostly one, or a few, of the issues (Ruse, 1982; Eldredge, 1982; Futuyma, 1983; Kitcher, 1983; McGowen, 1984). The mantrack claims were dealt with as issues easily dismissed, based upon professional observation to which the "mantracks" were peripheral. Nelkin (1982, p. 76) considered them an example of limited creationist research. If mentioned at all, chief amoniz the lines of argument for dismissal of the claims was the history of carved prints (Langston & Pittman, 1987), which tainted the whole issue as obviously unworthy of pursuit. The "mantracks" were mentioned in JASA only if they had been subjects in books reviewed (Mixter, 1983; Fayter, 1985).

Inspired by the work and influence of Taylor and Morris, the Reverend Carl Baugh moved to Texas from Missouri to take up the mantrack pursuit as early as 1981 (Golden, 1986a). Though of dubious scientific background, Baugh avoided the carving critique by finding freshly exposed "manprints" along with dinosaur prints beneath large limestone slabs on a ledge above the river, called the McFall site (Cole & Godfrey, 1985) or the Baugh/McFall ledize (Kuban, 1986a). He was soon supported by Clifford Wilson of Australia and by Walter Lang, then of the BSA. Using volunteer labor, Baugh claimed the exposure of tens of "mantracks" at this site (Bartz, 1982a, 1982b; Dougherty, 1982), and received media coverage to that effect (Turner, 1982). Baugb's support grew into the establisbment in 1983 of a Creation Evidences Museum near the Paluxy and Dinosaur Valley State Park outside Glen Rose, in which he gathered evidence for his alleged mantracks (e.g., Burdick's carvings) as well as other .1 out of place" fossils such as a "hammer in Ordivician or Silurian stone," human bones "from Cretaceous rock," and a trilobite fossil "from the Paluxy river bed" (Bible-Science Newsletter, 1983, 1984; Lang, 1983a, 1983b).

Recent Scientific Investigations of the Mantracks

By 1982 the influence of creationist efforts in science and science education, partly fueled by the Paluxy mantrack claims, could no longer be ignored. Not knowing of Kuban's earlier work, many scientists felt they had to deal with the claims directly. Anthropologist Laurie Godfrey critiqued Taylor's "Footprints in Stone" (Godfrey, 1981) and Weber did the same for the past mantrack claims in the journal CreationlEvolution (CE) (Weber, 1981), a journal created to scientifically counter the growing number of creationist claims and influences. For myself, I had become involved in creationist claims through their misuse of ideas from my own area of physics (e.g., the Second Law of Thermodynamics) and through the urgings of creationist friends of mine, one of whom showed "Footprints in Stone" to interested congregations and who informed me of the details of Baugh's claims. Soon I was involved in helping to blunt creationist influences in Texas public school textbooks as a member of the Texas Council for Science Education, which was formed by Houston geologist and activist Steve Schafersman. This council is also the Texas section of the nationwide Committees of Correspondence (CC's), groups established by Iowa science educator Stanley Weinberg to monitor all creationist activities. As Texas CC members, Schafersman and I worked with the Texas chapter of the anti-censorship group People for the American

In subsequent years of writing and talking to creation investigators of the Taylor site, Kuban found more discrepancies than clarifications.

Way, eventually resulting in Texas biology textbook improvements in the coverage of evolution (Hastings, 1984a, 1984b.) In 1983, Schafersman and David Milne published, in the joumal o ' f Geological Education (JGE), a critique of the past mantrack claims, including the work of Taylor, Morris, and others, showing that often what were considered mantracks were actually erosion scours (e.g., the alleged tracks on the park ledge), distorted or eroded dinosaur impressions, or fraudulent carvings (Milne and Schafersman, 1983).

Kuban continued his investigation of the origins of elongated tracks such as those of the Taylor trail. Using Morris' TTID as a guide to actual tracks, Kuban found some tracks apparently made in the manner be bad hypothesized, with partial or full elongated depressions made by saurian metatarsals ("feet"). In 1982, while investigating mantrack claims of the Reverend Baugh, he was shown a site full of such tracks-the West site. The West site contained unequivocal elongated dinosaur tracks with toe impressions in varying degrees of preservation, and very clear metatarsal impressions similar to those at the Taylor site.

The Investigations of Baugh's Claims

Also covered in Milne & Schafersman's JGE article (1983) was the excavation work of Reverend Baugh at the Baugh/McFall ledge. Schafersman and I were part of a scientific investigative team, which also included anthropologists Laurie Godfrey and John Cole. Collectively we were known as the "Raiders of the Lost Tracks," and part of our work in August of 1982 was sponsored b y the CE journal. I had also observed Baugh's work in June of that year, and Schafersman and I visited the site extensively in October. Together the "Raiders" found that Baugh's "mantracks" were either erosional features, trace fossil patterns conveniently interpreted, or genuine depressions always associated with exposed dinosaur trails on the ledge. Nothing matched tracks of human-like bipedal locomotion (Godfrey, in Cole & Godfrey, 1985). No features such as the claimed toe impressions were seen in any of these " mantracks," and by 1983 it was clear that the "perfect" human features which always "disappeared" before any of us critics arrived on the scene had to be formed by the friable marl not completely removed from the limestone stratum in which the dinosaur tracks were impressed. No trail of "mantracks" was

Together the "Raiders" found that Baugh's "mantracks" were either erosional features, trace fossil patterns conveniently interpreted, or genuine depressions always associated with exposed dinosaur trails on the ledge.

ever seen, despite Baugh's claims to the contrary (he tried to say that a "trail" was made of two narrow markings at the posterior of consecutive dinosaur tracks [perhaps made by the dinosaur's hallux or "dew claw"] coupled with an elongated depression without saurian toes alongside the dinosaur trail). About the only genuine depressions without clear saurian tridactyl (or three-toed) features were a few isolated depressions periodically alongside three of the longer dinosaur trails of the site. At first interpreted by the "Raiders" as mud-distorted dinosaur foot impressions, the work that Kuban and I did in 1985 verified, however, that these depressions were probably made by the creature's tail, snout, or forelimb occasionally contacting the then lime-mud in which they were walking (Hastings, 1986). During the work Kuban had done independently of the "Raiders" in 1982 and 1983 at the Baugh/McFall ledge, he had hypothesized this saurian appendage explanation. Other sites in the area contained dinosaur trails with such isolated depressions.

Many creationist observers began to privately criticize Baugh's claims as unsubstantial in 1982 and 1983. Curiously, there was a general reluctance to do so publicly.

The "Raiders" reported their findings of 1982 and 1983 in a series of articles compiled in the Special Issue CE XV (Cole & Godfrey, 1985). 1 had produced from our work in 1982 an amateur videotape called "Footprints in the Mind" (Hastings, 1982), which was in so much demand in early 1983 that Godfrey and Cole obtained just barely enough funding from the American Humanist Association, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), CE journal, the Iowa Freedom Foundation, and others to produce a professional version suitable for classroom use entitled "The Case of the Texas Footprints" (Cole, 1983), produced by Cole and directed by Pia Nicolini. My amateur production (mentioned a couple of times in the ASA Newsletter (ASA Newsletter, 1983a, 1983b) featured Baugh making some of his claims, including a "human handprint," and the later professional version emphasized the impact of the footprints upon science classrooms. Baugh's hammerin-stone was seen to be a concretion of Ordivician or Silurian material from southwest Texas around a nineteenth-century miner's mallet. The "handprint" was merely a selected pattern of trace fossils on the often still marl-laden surface. His "Cretaceous" human skeleton (Moab bones) was part of material clearly documented to be intrusive into Cretaceous strata in Utah. The trilobite "from the Paluxy" was correlated with Silurian deposits in Illinois, fossils which were known to be part of an annual fossil show at Glen Rose, or which were brought by trading Indians known to have frequented the Paluxy watershed prior to the twentieth century (Hastings, in Cole & Godfrey, 1985; Godfrey & Cole, 1986; Hastings, 1986, 1987b).

Even before the publication of CE XV, Baugh's support began to wane. Many creationist observers began to privately criticize Baugh's claims as unsubstantial in 1982 and 1983. Curiously, there was a general reluctance to do so publicly. Russell Bixler and a TV crew from a Christian station were hard pressed to film anything of substance to show eager audiences back home in Pittsburgh (Hastings, in Cole & Godfrey, 1985). Newspaper coverage began balancing Baugb's claims with criticisms from the "Raiders" (Barrineau, 1983; Krebs, 1985). Though Baugh continued voicing his grandiose plans for a multi-phased expansion of the Creation Evidences Museum (Golden, 1984), none materialized, resulting in the museum becoming static and often unvisited (Hastings, 1986). Not even his finding of genuine dinosaur bones upriver from the " mantrack" ledge, most of which were destroyed in their extraction, could claim for Baugh the scientific credibility be so earnestly sought. In September 1984, one of Baugh's former workers, Al West (for whom the West site was named), went public with the observation that Baugh bad never bad the human evidence upon which be was soliciting funding from a few congregations and other mantrack enthusiasts (Potter, 1984; Hastings, 1986). In support of West, Glen Kuban wrote a letter to Texas newspapers mentioning Kuban's metatarsal explanation (Kuban, 1984a, 1984b). Baugh's poor and sometimes embarrassing evidence at creationist meetings and conferences, particularly in 1984, eroded his credibility so that by 1985 he was not invited to speak at the national meetings (Schadewaid, 1984a, 1984b, 1986c; Cole, 1986; Wakefield, 1986), and only a small faction of the Bible-Science Association and the Genesis Institute, represented by Walter Lang, continued public support. Baugh's case was not helped by indications that there were deliberate alterations of evidence in his later work (Potter, 1984).

Perhaps the best publicized item displayed in Baugb's museum was a copy of the so-called Caldwell print, the most humanlike of Baugh's relics and whose original was cited by Baugh and others as having been removed from the Paluxy river bed. Casts of this print were given in exchange for contributions to Baugh's museum or to Louisiana's Creation Legal Defense Fund. By the end of 1985 contacts with local Glen Rose residents, with Caldwell himself, and with people associated with "Footprints in Stone, " revealed that no one bad actually seen the print removed from the river bed, as Baugh claimed, that it had been sold in the 1960's as a carving, and that Baugh's copy was identified as a copy of a footprint carved decades before by a wellknown footprint "artist" (Hastings, 1986; Godfrey & Cole, 1986). Kuban has recently located the original Caldwell print at Columbia Union College, which had been cross-sectioned over 15 years ago by the Loma Linda team investigating mantrack claims, clearly showing it to be a carving. To their credit, many creationists such as John Morris have maintained this print to be a "probable carving" rather than a genuine manprint.

Another mantrack enthusiast, John DeVilbiss, criticized Baugh's work as did the "Raiders," but maintained that there was yet reason to continue searching for mantracks beneath the limestone slabs (ASA Newsletter, 1985), as if lack of evidence was a positive indication of their existence. His exchange with "Raider" John Cole in Origins Research (Cole, 1985; DeVilbiss, 1985) revealed DeVilbiss' zeal to gatber funding for extravagant future work and his superficial

However, and perhaps significantly, if one interpreted these as mantracks, one of the omitted tracks would have its "big toe" on the wrong side of the foot, as the outside digit of the dinosaur did leave a significant depression at this track's anterior.

acquaintance with mantrack claims other than Baugb's. The ASA Newsletter reported Kuban's metatarsal explanation as a vital explanation of the saurian origin of many claimed mantracks, listing Gerhard Nickel and myself as Kuban's assistants (ASA Newsletter, 1985). This report alongside a statement of DeVilbiss'position showed the ASA readership a wide disparity in conclusions concerning the mantrack claims, but little more.

Investigations of the "Best" Mantracks

As Baugh's work had become more questionable by 1984, mantrack enthusiasts returned to the "mantracks" of Stanley Taylor's "Footprints in Stone" and John Morris' TTID. One creationist friend of mine agreed with the criticisms of Baugb's claims, but would respond with, in effect: "Yes, but what about the Taylor tracks?" Among the strong negative reactions to my "Footprints in the Mind" were references to the "best" mantracks-those at the Taylor site (Hinterliter, 1984a, 1984b). About the time I found the Taylor site in August 1984, which is usually under water, silt, and debris year-round ' I finally met with Glen Kubanwho, of course, bad been studying mantrack claims since 1980-and we soon saw the advantages of collaborating our efforts (Golden, 1986a). Though I took castings of the Taylor trail (the best known of the four "human" trails at the Taylor site), they proved unnecessary for a close analysis, for in September 1984 the site dried up as part of an unusually dry weather pattern, allowing a thorough cleaning and a rare opportunity to identify the many tracks on site (Hastings, in Cole & Godfrey, 1985; Golden, 1986a). Other investigators had taken advantage of such rare times also (e.g., Kuban in 1980), or, as in the case of Reverend Taylor, employed extensive sandbagging (S. Taylor, 1970a).

The measurement of the paces and strides of the Taylor trail showed them to be of dinosaurian dimensions, despite their unusual elongation and shallowness, when compared with dinosaur trail data from tens of trails made available by Jim Farlow, a paleontologist at Purdue/Indiana at Ft. Wayne. Kuban and I independently took these measurements, and I sent my data to Godfrey and Cole for inclusion in CE XV in order to indicate that the Taylor trail cannot be definitely declared human. The numbers definitely did not fit

The anteriors of the Taylor tracks splayed to the sides as other obviously dinosaurian tracks; and, traces of saurian digit depressions could be seen upon close inspection Of some of these track anteriors.

human proportions no matter how gigantic humans can get (S. Taylor, 1970a; Hastings, Cole, in Cole & Godfrey, 1985; Kuban, 1986a). Kuban and I verified, as had been done by Kuban and Bartholomew in 1980, that on the map of one of the creationist pro-mantrack investigators, a total of four prints on the Taylor trail were omitted. In my opinion, this is hard to justify, given that once the pace is known the position of the next print can be predicted, and given that these were not drastically obscure prints in the trail. However, and perhaps significantly, if one interpreted these as mantracks, one of the omitted tracks would have its "big toe" on the wrong side of the foot, as the outside digit of the dinosaur did leave a significant depression at this track's anterior. In addition, the combination of several other phenomena showed unequivocally that the Taylor trail was dinosaurian in origin.

First, dinosaurs made unusually elongated tracks of "giant human" proportions by at least partially dropping down on their metatarsals (plantigrade mode, as opposed to the more normal digitigrade mode, or "on the toes"), sometimes including their "heels." This was the explanation developed by Kuban based upon his work from as early as 1980. Elongated tracks could also be formed by the metatarsals placed in very soft mud at a small angle to the horizontal. It was the rounded "heel" depression at the posterior of many of the Taylor trail tracks that had been interpreted as human, while there was little or no depression at the anterior. Such elongated tracks were seen at other sites along the Paluxy (such as the Baugh/McFall ]edge or the West site) and have been seen at track sites worldwide (Kuban, 1986a, 1987a; Hastings, 1987a). I had found such elongated tracks just downstream from the Taylor site that verified for me that Kuban's plantigrade idea explained most of the elongated tracks he and I had seen. Second, the anteriors of the Taylor tracks splayed to the sides as other obviously dinosaurian tracks; and, third, traces of saurian digit depressions could be seen upon close inspection of some of these track anteriors, all of which had been noted by Kuban as early as 1980 (Kuban, 1986b).

Most dramatic of all, however, was evidence that the Taylor tracks had, at some time subsequent to their making, been filled with a material whose geochemistry was sufficiently different from the outlying limestone to oxidize the surface to a reddish-brown color upon recent exposure or to simply contrast with a blue-gray color in an outline of the original depression. This contrast was called "discoloration," "color distinction," or later, simply "coloration." At the anterior of each of the tracks of the Taylor trail, these colorations showed the unmistakable shape of at least one of the three tridactyl dinosaurian digits; sometimes two or all three were seen. The colorations corresponded to other similar phenomena Kuban and I had independently seen previously (Hastings, 1986, 1987a; Kuban, 1986a, 1986b, 1988c; Golden, 1986a; Price et. al., 1987, pp. 20-21).

The colorations further confirmed that the Giant Run and the Ryals trail were also dinosaurian-and plantigrade dinosaurian at that-by revealing the outline of the one or more tridactyl digits on each of the trails' tracks (Hastings, 1986, 1987a; Kuban, 1986a, 1986b). The colorations similarly confirmed the Turnage trail to be unequivocally saurian also. Even Baugh agreed (in 1984) that the colorations made the Taylor site tracks even more obviously dinosaurian. All "mantrails" at the Taylor site were clearly made by dinosaurs.

Kuban attempted to get the ICR to send someone to look at the high and dry phenomena of the Taylor site in 1984, but no one came from ICR. It is hard to understand scientifically why such an opportunity was lost, considering the importance of the mantrack claims to ICR in the past (Saladin, 1985; Schadewald, 1986a). Kuban and I had documented in August 1985 the dinosaur trails exposed by Baugh's work (Baugh had never been interested in the dinosaur data). We had concluded, as previously mentioned, that Kuban's hypothesis of the "man-like" depressions alongside the trails being made by an appendage of the dinosaur, possibly the tail, was essentially verified (Hastings, 1986). Also at this time I saw for the first time the West site's many elongated dinosaurian depressions, verifying for me still further the plantigrade explanation's ability to account for almost all the elongated saurian prints at both the Taylor site and the Baugh/McFall ledge. Now Kuban, with my encouragement, decided to force a response from ICR by sending them photos and other evidence of the obvious dinosaurian origin of the Taylor site tracks, which Kuban made clear he was about to publish. Mere invitations which Kuban had made to ICR or to the BSA in previous years to revisit the Paluxy and look at Kuban's findings on the "mantracks" had never been accepted. However, in 1985 the response was uncharacteristically prompt.

In October 1985 John Morris, Paul and Marian Taylor (son and widow of Stanley Taylor), and others who had helped in the production of "Footprints in Stone" saw the Taylor site with only a few centimeters of Clear, relatively calm water over the tracks. Kuban had swept clean the site in preparation and had previously taken this group of visitors to the West site to "prep" them for what they were about to see at the Taylor site. The colorations were even more vivid than in 1984, due to some additional oxidation, and even the Ryals trail was showing the outlines of anterior dinosaurian digits more than ever before (Hastings, 1986, 1987a; Kuban, 1986a, 1986b; Golden, 1986a)' Af ter considering various degrees of capitulation, the official" position of ICR was to admit the dinosaurian appearance of the Taylor trails and be very reserved about the other "human" trails, despite Kuban's on-site demonstration that they all were unequivocally dinosaurian. In an Impact article, Morris implied the colorations might be fraudulently painted, and he dwelt upon questions of no consequence to the dinosaurian origins of the tracks (J. Morris, 1986). However, in that same article he did state that it would be "improper for creationists to continue to use the Paluxy data as evidence against evolution," and in an interview he was quoted as saying, "As much as it hurts me, it is very likely that my original interpretation was wrong" (Jones, 1986). Paul Taylor announced a similar position for Films for Christ, deciding to stop new distributions of "Footprints in Stone" (P. Taylor, 1985). It was expected that other films of the company citing Paluxy mantracks would also be edited, but this has not been verified. (A creationist friend of mine who had shown "Footprints in Stone" to various congregations ceased doing so in late 1984 when he saw my photos and videotape of the Taylor trail.)

To lessen the impact of the origins of the "mantracks," Henry Morris in a letter to friends of ICR described the alleged human tracks as being always "illustrative, not definitive, " not affecting the "over-all case against evolution" (H. Morris, 1986). Such statements are belied by the ICR logo for their museum, which shows the superimposition of a human track and a dinosaur track, and by the curriculum which includes

It is certainly true that both Piltdown and Paluxy represent cases in which the lack of critical judgement, not the evidence itself, fitted the respective sets of preconceptions involved. But differences as well as similarities between Piltdown and Paluxy can be at least equally instructive.

mantracks with dinosaur tracks still taught to children nearby (Schadewald, 1986b). By late 1986, John Morris was using his "inconclusive" description about cores taken at the Taylor site (to learn something about the origins of the coloration phenomenon itself) to question the dinosaurian origin of the tracks, and he was hinting still at a hoax by citing ways limestone could be stained. The cores to which Morris had access were taken sometime between October 1985 and mid-1986. I had taken some flakes from the surface of one of the coloration tracks and from the adjacent surface outside it in October 1985. Subsequent analysis by Wann Langston, Jr. at the University of Texas at Austin showed no surprises in the sample content, but did not aid in distinguishing between the geochemistry inside as compared to that outside.

To deal with the suggestion of purposefully staining the surface, evidence against which was given to Morris from the beginning (Kuban, 1986a; Hastings, 1987a), Kuban and I tried Morris' staining recipe on rock away from the river bed-to find little or no resemblance to the track colorations. In September 1986, with permission from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, we took seven cores-smaller than Morris'-at the boundaries of the colorations and found, as we predicted and in contradistinction to John Morris' statements, a clear subsurface boundary coinciding with the surface boundary. The boundary on the surface extends several centimeters below, the blue-gray to gray material inside the track contrasting clearly with the ivory to tan limestone material outside (Hastings, 1987a; Kuban, 1988c). Therefore, the colorations, which have been seen also in dinosaur tracks in Colorado and New Mexico (Martin, 1986; Gillette, 1986), are definitely not hoaxes, as Kuban, others, and I knew since 1984.

The colorations were such strong visual evidence that the "best" of the creationist "mantracks" were clearly dinosaurian, that the media coverage of the altered ICR and Films for Christ positions on the mantracks peaked in the summer of 1986. Many of the articles were accompanied by photographs provided by Kuban, Cole, or myself (Boyer, 1986; Golden, 1986b; Lemonick, 1986; Long, 1986; Martin, 1986; Ogle, 1986; Pugh, 1986; Wilford, 1986). The dinosaurian identification of the most famous ."mantracks" was used to illustrate points made in the Horizon BBC documentary based upon Richard Dawkins book The Blind Watchmaker (J. Taylor, 1987; Dawkins, 1986), in which both Kuban and I briefly appeared. I assisted Dawkins and producer Jeremy Taylor in filming this production in September 1986 (Hastings, 1987a), whereas Kuban had philosophical reservations about the conclusions of the production. I published an article in JGE covering the Taylor site expos6 of dinosaurian origins, featuring many of Kuban's photographs (Hastings, 1987a). Kuban is now writing a definitive, detailed history of the Paluxy mantrack claims (Kuban, 1988a).


Despite every reason to do so, very little has been done by the ICR to rectify the conclusions of John Morris' book TTID. Sometimes John Morris' Impact article on the mantracks (J. Morris, 1986) is inserted as a disclaimer, and sometimes not. There has been no announcement that printing TTID will be discontinued, though Morris indicated to a reporter that the book would be discontinued (Jones, 1986). The actions of Paul Taylor of Films for Christ in removing "Footprints in Stone" seem more responsible than those of ICR; although, again, other FFC films mentioning the Paluxy mantracks may still be unaltered. The BSA formed a "Task Force" in 1986 to investigate the "new evidence," but since then little more than silence comes from them as they allegedly verify Kuban's and my findings. Strangely enough, Kuban has been contacted very little by the Task Force, and I never.

However, Students for Origins Research (SOR) in the journal Origins Research seems very willing to publish the events on the "mantracks" (Cole, 1985; DeVilbiss, 1985; Kuban, 1986a). ASA's Committee for Integrity in Science Education wrapped up the dinosaurian origins of the Taylor site tracks rather succinctly, using information from Kuban and revising an earlier version on my suggestion to square more with the facts (Price et al., 1987, pp. 20-21). Given as an example of how science works, along with Piltdown man, the Paluxy mantracks are cited for their educational value. It is certainly true that both Piltdown and Paluxy represent cases in which the lack of critical judgement, not the evidence itself, fitted the respective sets of preconceptions involved. But differences as, well as similarities between Piltdown and Paluxy can be at least equally instructive. Despite some evidence of deliberate deception in Baugh's later work (Potter, 1984), creationist mantrack enthusiasts seem not to have sought in the beginning to deceive anyone; Paluxy mantrack claims were not hoaxes as was Piltdown. However, the overlooking of some lines of evidence, the lack of close-up views and published photographs, and the long list of groundless rationalizations after seeing the evidence in 1985 does suggest, if not a series of cover-ups, at least some obscurantism (Hastings, 1986, 1987a; Schadewald, 1986a; Kuban, 1986a, 1986b). Nor were the Paluxy mantrack enthusiasts exactly in the mainstream of science today, as allegedly were the Piltdown hoaxer(s) in their day, whatever their identity. Mantrack enthusiasts, along with seekers of Noah's ark in eastern Turkey, are seen as fringe users of science toward vindication of their non-scientific beliefs, not as practitioners of science searching for the truth about nature.

Mantrack enthusiasts, along with seekers of Noah's ark in eastern Turkey, are seen as fringe users of science toward vindication of their non-scientific beliefs, not as Practitioners of science searching for the truth about nature.

Few, in my opinion, are as shocked over the resolution of the mantrack claims@espite the laudable "mantracker" goals of literally "uncovering the truth"-as they were in the unraveling of the Piltdown affair, with its motives of apparent petty jealousy and/or a prankgone-awry (Gould, 1980, 1983; Blinderman, 1986). In other words, the distinction between the self-delusion of the Paluxy mantracks and the hoaxing of the Piltdown man seems equally as clear as any parallels.

The exposure of erroneous information or of unethical practices in science is, historically, part of the scientific enterprise-long though it may take, as in the case of Piltdown. There were surprisingly few critiques of the early mantrack claims, however, despite early evidence to merit such. Some creationist observers of Baugh's claims privately criticized them, but would not do so publicly. As we critics of Baugh's (and, later, of J. Morris' and P. Taylor's) work came forward with our conclusions, then we thought we might hear somewhat more vocal criticism from these same observers. The situation seemed similar to that which Richard Dawkins pointed out to me, when the great evolutionary scientist J.B.S. Haldane was reluctant to criticize the pseudoscientific atrocities of Soviet Lysenkoism because of his political preferences for communism. Negative reactions from many of Baugh's supporters to "Raider" investigations were very prompt, however, with little or no reluctance.

Though unnecessary to show the scientific failure of the evidence to substantiate the mantrack claims, I think it instructive to point out the broken promises and discourtesy on the part of some of the mantrack advocates. Evidence specified repeatedly by Baugh and promised to be shown to the "Raiders" and Kuban (e.g., photos, maps, etc.) never materialized. Kuban's contacts with some mantrack investigators, and especially with John Morris and Paul Taylor, were characterized with promised lines of evidence that were often never fulfilled, despite Kuban's consistent permission for them to use his evidence-as Morris did in the August 1986 Creationist Conference (Cole, 1986; Schadewald, 1986c; Wakefield, 1986.). Rather than meet me in October 1985, John Morris requested of Kuban that I not be present at the Taylor site (Hastings, 1986). In the summer of 1986 in Glen Rose, John Morris failed to meet an appointment he and I had verbally confirmed, with no subsequent explanation. The very next day Morris also failed to keep his appointment with a newspaper reporter from Dallas, but the reporter happened to find him working in the river with Reverend Baugh.

Incidentally, the resolution of the Paluxy mantrack claims is still another concrete example of the unexpected and exciting turns scientific research can take. Our pursuit of the mantracks has led to new insights into dinosaur locomotion and, perhaps, dinosaurian behavior. Kuban has made the world of dinosaur ichnology very aware of the two previously unaddressed phenomena of plantigrade locomotion and tracks defined primarily by colorations (Kuban, 1988b, 1988c).


It is abundantly clear that there is no positive evidence that mantracks are found in the Lower Cretaceous limestone along the Paluxy River, regardless of how such a discovery would be welcomed or dreaded. This seems true for all investigable phenomena labeled as mantracks in the past. Questions do remain about the exact mechanisms and geochemistry of the colorations on the "best mantracks" that made dinosaurian origins clear for most of the mantrack enthusiasts (Kuban, 1988c; Hastings, 1987a), but these have nothing to do with what made the tracks. (Preliminary laboratory analyses and on-site observations of the cores Kuban and I took suggest an infilling of the tracks soon after they were made by a clay-like material, possibly a mixture of terrigenous and marine sediments. Selective

Our pursuit of the mantracks has led to new insights into dinosaur locomotion and, perhaps, dinosaurian behavior.

diagenesis within the tracks at low tide after the infilling, in addition to the original infilling's distinction from the lime-mud substrate on which it was deposited, could have played a part toward producing, after lithification, the more dolomitic nature-higher content of magnesium carbonate-of the material inside the tracks compared to the more typical dolomitic limestone outside.)

It is undoubtedly unrealistic to say that the pursuit of mantracks has ended, as creationist zeal for out-of-place fossils has been unquenchable. In 1987 Baugh began work at a new site upriver from his old excavations. In a somewhat related project, John DeVilbiss has begun assigning human characteristics to depressions just across the river from Baugh's new site (Acts & Facts, 1987)-depressions similar to the ones Kuban, the other "Raiders," and I have already described on Baugh's excavation sites on the Baugh/McFall ledge. Baugh seems to be making the same misinterpretations as before, but DeVilbiss apparently does not recognize any value in his newly documented depressions for mantrack enthusiasts (DeVilbiss, 1988). However, ICR has given these activities some support that will undoubtedly kindle new mantrack hopes and perhaps new Baugh support (Acts & Facts, 1987).

Surely much could be said about the factors driving the mantrack enthusiasts, but these factors now must be seen as having little or nothing to do with the evidence. The summer of 1987 has seen a resurgence of support for Baugh brought on by the alleged find of a "human tooth" in Cretaceous deposits, which apparently is a fossilized fish tooth (Hastings, 1987b, 1987c). Concern must be raised over why there was not more persistent "in-house" criticism of the mantrack claims among creationists, why some evidence was overlooked, and why alternative explanations were not pursued. Methods such as sparse and incomplete documentation, as well as the pro-mantrack conclusions, were in a scientific sense very questionable.

To conclude that there are no mantracks in Cretaceous limestone along the Paluxy River in Texas is to take no necessary ideological stand; it merely is stating matter-of-factly the results of an evidence-based scientific position. From a variety of viewpoints among the careful and probing mantrack investigators came our common scientific conclusions. That variety includes both conservative and liberal Christianity, atheistic humanism, and agnostic skepticism. Though we differed on some details of interpretation, we have come to the same or very similar overall conclusions concerning creationist mantrack claims along the Paluxy. The absence of mantracks is not necessarily a pro-evolutionary statement, although none of the research in pursuit of them does harm to modern evolutionary conclusions. Nor is it anti-creationist for the myriad of philosophical and theological positions embodying the concept of a Creator. It is, however, a devastating indictment against scientifically irresponsible claims fueled by an anti-evolutionary zeal notable among many fundamentalist Christian believers-a zeal suf f icient to obscure or diminish sensitivity to the scientific irresponsibility of the claims.


I would like to thank my field colleague Glen Kuban for his aid and suggestions in improving this manuscript, as well as for the help from my other fellow investigators, Steve Schafersman, Laurie Godfrey, John Cole, and many of my students. Thanks go to geologists Art Strahler and John Armstrong, and to paleontologists Jim Farlow and Wann Langston, Jr. for their suggestions and input. For his special encouragement and help in preparing this work, I thank John A. McIntyre.


Ronnie J. Hastings received a B.S. and a Ph.D. in physics, both from Texas A&M University. He was a Regional Science Advisor for the University of Texas at Austin and became instructor of physics and advanced math at Waxahachie High School, Waxahachie, Texas in 1973. Dr. Hastings has directed computer services and student-oriented educational research projects, and was the only investigator of the Paluxy mantracks to actively participate in all major phases of their resolution since 1982. He received the Texas A&M Sigma Xi Chapter's Outstanding Secondary School Teacher Award in 1986.


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