Had an interesting conversation this weekend with a woman who had been to visit the Creation Science Museum and apparently was spoiling for an evolution fight after viewing some of Carl Baugh's exhibits. She mentioned that there had been human footprints in the Paluxy River that had disappeared, which sounded like quite the conspiracy theory to me, with the implication that scientists seeking to discredit the creation beliefs had somehow spiritied them away and hidden or destroyed them. Now, keep in mind that I haven't been to the Creation Evidence Museum, so I have no idea if this is something the woman came up with on her own or it's a museum talking point.
Most recently, I have read about the Alvis Delk footprint, which seems to me most assuredly to be a fake and, if not, Mr. Baugh should submit the footprint to an accredited science program at a university, with paleontologists, rather than taking them down to the road to a medical center or having a radiologist look at the xrays. To add to that, it's well known that some in Glen Rose used to carve fake footprints to sell to tourists.
I hadn't really looked at any other footprint stories, however, and the idea that there would be a conspiracy to fool the public was intriguing. Here's a link to Glen Kuban's site which covers the subject of "Man Tracks?" at, among other locations, the Taylor site (I assume that is the site to which the woman I was discussing this with was referring).
The Taylor Site. This was Paluxy site most often claimed to contain human tracks, beginning with Stanley Taylor's research and film in the late 1960's and early 1970's (Taylor, 1973), and continuing with other claims throughout the 1970's and 1980's. However, the most thorough analyses indicate that the alleged human tracks here are elongate, metatarsal dinosaur tracks--made by dinosaurs that, at least at times, impressed their soles and heels as they walked (Kuban, 1986a, 1986b; Hastings, 1988)). When the digit marks of such tracks (which are common in the Paluxy Riverbed) are subdued by one or more factors (erosion, sediment infilling, or mud-collapse), they often resemble giant human prints. Most of the tracks on the Taylor Site are largely infilled with a secondary sediment which hardened into the original track depressions. When the tracksite surface is well cleaned, at least some tracks in each trail show shallow tridactyl (three-toed) digit impressions indicating dinosaurian origin, as as well as color and texture distinctions corresponding to the infilled material and further confirming the dinosaurian nature of the tracks (Kuban, 1986b; Hastings, 1978a). Claims during the 1990's by Carl Baugh and associates that some of these tracks have human prints within them or overlapping them have been shown to be as baseless as the original claims.(Kuban, 1989).
A site largely ignored by the human track advocates but which has great relevance to the controversy is the Alfred West site, just a stone's throw from Carl Baugh's Creation Evidence Museum. At the West site are numerous striding trails of dinsosaur tracks, including several metatarsal trackways. In some of these trails one can see both clear metatarsal tracks with three distinct dinosaurian digits, as well as less distinct (due to erosion or mud collapse of the digits), somewhat more human-like metatarsal tracks in line with them. Such tracks are very similar in size and have the same general proportions as the renown "man tracks" at the Taylor Site (which again, are partly largely metatarsal dinosaur tracks).
and *Retracking Those Incredible Man Tracks" which also points out that, even though the ICR has ceased to sell a video purporting to show man tracks, and has actually backtracked on those claims, the claims were never fully abandoned, even though discredited.
The ambiguity of the supposed "man tracks" within the dinosaur tracks is further exemplified by the fact that neither Morris nor other creationists who reexamined the Taylor Site on several occasions between 1985 and 1988 reported any new human- like features there--until they were "found" by Baugh and Patton this summer--even though the tracks have changed very little since 1985. Ironically, Baugh stated to me while standing on the Taylor Site in 1985, "No one would call these prints human."
Also unfounded is Morris' assertion that several prints contain properly configured "toe-like impressions" or that they are "accentuated by colorations." None of the depressions contain anything approaching clear human toe marks, and the few markings that Baugh and Patton are claiming as toes are merely vague or irregular features representing broken and or partially eroded portions of the infilling material, or (in one case) a mud-crack pattern. Any "discolorations" associated with these supposed "toes" are ill-defined and superficial features within the infilled regions. These are quite different from the more distinct and significant color contrasts occurring at the boundary of the infilling material and the surrounding substrate, which, along with texture and relief features, define the dinosaur digits. Further, in no case are the supposed human toes accompanied by a complete or clear set of other human features (ball, arch, heel), and often the contours of the track contradict those of genuine human prints.
Curiously, Morris evidently does not question ill-defined colorations misapplied to dubious "man track" claims, but previously suggested that distinct color and texture features indicating dinosaurian digits might be fraudulent stains (despite much evidence to the contrary), and that his core samples of the tracks were "inconclusive." Whether Morris still believes them "inconclusive" he did not clarify. Core samples taken by Ron Hastings and me in recent years has well-established the genuineness of the cores, and, along with other evidences, thoroughly confirm the dinosaurian origin of the tracks.
One might wonder why Baugh has resorted to hunting "man tracks" among previously refuted evidences on the Taylor Site, when Baugh himself claims to have found over 50 human tracks along the McFall property during his previous excavations. The probable reason is that even most creationists have realized that Baugh's claims did not match the evidence, and possibly Baugh and Patton are now desperate to salvage something "man trackish" from the Paluxy, especially since their much lauded "human tooth" is looking more and more "fishy."
Finally, here is a link from Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies about the Dinosaur and Human Footprints-not only includes photographs but the history of how these were examined.
Therefore, doesn't look like any type of conspiracy to me, but rather debunked information that continues to exist under the radar.
P.S. Would it surprise you to know there's a whole lot of fossil fraud?