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No. 45: May-Jun 1986

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Backtracking along the paluxy: or is there a deeper mystery?

Ostensibly, the facts are as follows: Several series of tracks in the sedimentary rocks along the Paluxy River, in Texas, which many creationists have considered to be of human origin, have recently changed appearance, apparently due to erosion.

"Due to an unknown cause, certain of the prints once labeled human are taking on a completely different character. The prints in the trail which I have called the 'Taylor Trail,' consisting of numerous readily visible impressions in a left-right sequence, have changed into what appear to be tridactyl (three-toed prints, evidently of some unidentified dinosaur. The changes in the impressions themselves are mostly confined to lengthening in the downriver direction. The most significant change, however, is that surrounding the toe area. In almost each of the prints in the trail, three large 'toes' have appeared, similar to nearby dinosaur tracks. These toes, typically, are coloration phenomena only, with no impressions, in most cases. Frequently the 'mud pushup' surrounding the original elongated track is crossed by this red coloration. The shape of the entire track, including both impression and coloration, is unlike any known dinosaur print."

J. Moore, the author of this article and a creationist, suggests that creationists no longer use the Paluxy tracks as evidence that humans and dinosaurs once coexisted. But he adds that several mysteries still exist, two of which are:

(1) Why is erosion improving the quality of the tracks instead of the reverse? (2) Why aren't those tracks exposed earlier also acquiring the stain marks?

Moore also points out that the reddish stains could have easily been added artificially!!

(Morris, John D.; "The Paluxy River Mystery," ICR Impact Series no. 151, January 1986. ICR = Institute for Creation Research.)

Comment. Fraud is certainly implied by the suggestion of artificiality. Would the enemies of creationism go out at night with a brush to destroy a key datum supporting creationism? Of course we don't know. But the whole business bears a fascinating resemblance to the case of Paul Kammerer, who in the 1920s reported lab data supporting the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Evolutionists were aghast and attacked Kammerer vigorously. Then one scientist discovered that some of Kammerer's specimens had been deliberatel tampered with. Kammerer eventually committed suicide. However, A. Koestler, in his book The Case of the Midwife Toad, reviewed the affair and suggested that Kammerer may have been framed by someone who surreptitiously injected India ink into the feet of some of Kammerer's specimens. A curious parallelism, is it not? Moral: Theories are more important than facts!?

Original Paluxy footprint (left) and their present appearance (right) Original Paluxy footprint (left) and their present appearance (right). The coloration goes right across the mud pushups.

From Science Frontiers #45, MAY-JUN 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987