Footprints of Fantasy

Creation scientist Dr. Carl Baugh claims he's found evidence that will explode the 'myth' of evolution. But the biggest myth is Baugh himself.

Yet Baugh claimed the invalid anthropology degree again in 1992 in his book Footprints in the Stones of Time. And following his logic, Baugh would have to discount his own bachelor's degree, since Burton College no longer exists either. It appears that degrees exist for Baugh when he wants them to.

There's no crime in not holding a scientific degree. But Baugh has based much of his claim to scientific authority on his credentials. "You must be qualified to be taken seriously," he told the Observer. "You need degrees in the area that it applies."

If those credentials are false, what can be said about the authenticity of Baugh's scientific findings? Not much, it turns out.

Since his initial discovery in 1982 of the alleged human footprints mingled with dinosaur tracks, Baugh has steadily built a reputation in creationist circles through his ability to discover ever-more-spectacular "evidences." Yet scientists from both the creationist and secular camps have examined the foundations of Baugh's research and found them made of sand.

Since 1982, Baugh says he's found more than 50 man tracks in different areas along the Paluxy River. He calls them by the names of the properties on which they were found or the people who found them: Taylor Tracks, McFall Tracks, Clark Tracks, and so on. He has produced books, pamphlets, and videotapes chronicling his research. His finds have also had the backing of some of the top creationist groups, including Morris' Institute for Creation Research.

Dr. M.E. Clark, professor emeritus of theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois, accompanied Baugh on many of his digs. He says Baugh's claims are legitimate, having seen firsthand the evidence he uncovered.

"I saw it with my own eyes," Clark says of the footprints. "When we went along the Taylor trail, we took extensive photographs. My feet were used as models." (Clark wears a size 13.)

But many of these fossil footprints were later shown to be filled-in dinosaur tracks. Glen Kuban, a computer programmer from Ohio and an amateur paleontologist who's known in dinosaur circles as an expert on tracks, has researched human and dinosaur track claims, including Baugh's, since 1980. Kuban, a creationist, says he wanted to study the tracks to determine if they were really human--and if not, what other creature made them.

"I am a Christian, but I didn't know what to make of these things," he says.
He noticed one year--when the Paluxy River's water level was particularly low--some discoloration near the toe area of the alleged human tracks. Those discolorations matched the claw prints of a three-toed dinosaur, Kuban says. He soon concluded that most of the alleged human tracks in the Taylor area were in reality those of dinosaurs.

Kuban presented his findings in 1986 in a paper he presented at the International Conference on Dinosaur Tracks in New Mexico, and also published them in a newsletter called Creation/Evolution. In the paper, Kuban says the discoloration indicates an infilling of part of the dinosaur tracks with another sort of material. The tracks were elongated because two-legged, three-toed dinosaurs didn't always walk on their toes. Sometimes, they placed their full weight on the soles of their feet, hence the long footprints with a heavy heel emphasis.

"I have concluded that no genuine human tracks have been found in the Paluxy River bed," Kuban wrote.

Around the same time, Ron Hastings, a physics teacher from Waxahachie and an ardent evolutionist who has spent much of his time trying to keep creation science out of the public schools, was also exploring the alleged human tracks. He, too, noticed the discolorations. When he and Kuban met, they both decided to set aside their philosophical beliefs and examine the facts. He believes they did.

"Our preconceptions have nothing to do with our scientific conclusions," Hastings says. "A lot of people want to make this a big clash between creation and evolution. It isn't. It's about the way you do science."

Kuban's research was widely regarded by both creationists and evolutionists as accurate and scientifically sound. Creation groups that had once backed Baugh's claim that the tracks were undeniably human backtracked. Even Baugh admits he was wrong about some of the tracks.

"I was one of the first to see what he [Kuban] had found," Baugh says. "And I called my colleagues and told them there were problems with the Taylor tracks. I told them they were dinosaurian. I was the first to acknowledge it."

That's not what Kuban recalls, however. He doesn't remember Baugh making any admission that he was wrong until Morris and other prominent creationists affirmed Kuban's work.

"He kept saying publicly that they were human tracks," Kuban says.
And Baugh was still able to salvage some of his man tracks by devising a new theory. Using the same idea of discoloration, he and geologist Don Patton pumped a section of the alleged man tracks dry and made their own discovery: human footprints inside the dinosaur tracks.

"They were so clear," Baugh says. "One was about 11 1/2 inches in length, and the other, which was also distinct, was smaller. It was a child's foot."

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