By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Baugh points to a cast that he made of one of the human footprints-turned-dinosaur tracks. Only when Baugh points out the dinosaur features does one recognize anything other than a somewhat shapeless depression. With a little guidance from Baugh, one can see something resembling a human footprint, with five dents for toes and a heavy heel imprint.
"In all these tracks or to the sides of the track are these secondary impressions, which are quite distinct," Baugh says. "You can tell a man has stepped there."
The scientific community isn't buying it.
"I don't think any reputable scientist would claim that [those impressions] are anything remotely resembling human tracks, except in a superficial way," says Lundelius, who is familiar with Baugh and his claims. "In many cases, you are looking at something that dinosaurs made."
Baugh's scientific claims extend well beyond findings of fossil tracks. He lists several other projects on his resume, including dinosaur digs, archaeological excavations, and the search for Noah's ark. Not surprisingly, several of these endeavors have landed Baugh in controversy. Others are challenged by traditional scientists.
One such project is his biosphere, which he boasts has even caught the attention of NASA. (Baugh lectured on the biosphere in late 1995 at an engineering colloquium at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.)
The biosphere is Baugh's attempt to re-create the earth's conditions before the great flood of Noah. Before the deluge, the earth's atmosphere was 10 percent smaller and more dense, and contained greater quantities of oxygen and carbon dioxide, Baugh says. The electromagnetic field surrounding the earth was stronger, helping to filter out cosmic impurities, and bathed the earth in a healthy pink glow. In these conditions, he says, living things could live up to their "optimal genetic expression," meaning they grew bigger and lived longer.
In his tiny biosphere at the Creation Evidences Museum, Baugh says he's extended the life span of fruit flies by three times. Also in the biosphere is a lone copperhead snake. Within a month of landing in the biosphere, the molecular structure of the snake's venom changed from the usual globular design to a honeycomb shape, Baugh says. He couldn't say what that means for the snake.
"The venom is closer to serum," Baugh explains vaguely. "Snakes are designed to vaccinate."
Baugh adds that the electromagnetic field has even increased the size of two pacu piranhas located within 10 feet of the biosphere. In 18 months, the two fish have grown from guppy size to 17 inches, he says.
None of these experiments has been subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny, Baugh acknowledges. Yet in his recorded presentation at the museum, they are recited as fact.
There are other explanations for these phenomena. Pacus are known to grow very rapidly, says Steve Bailey, curator for fish at the New England Aquarium in Boston. They'll grow as large as you let them, he adds.
"The pacu is the equivalent of cattle," Bailey says. "You can fatten these things up and get an enormous amount of growth in a short time. If I had $1 for every phone call I've received from some hobbyist who bought pacu and were outraged that they had the audacity to outgrow the tank, I could quit my job."
Baugh's snake theories sounded dubious to Dr. Jonathan Campbell, a herpetologist and professor of biology at the University of Texas at Arlington. Snake venom is highly complicated in structure, differing not only among species but among individual snakes, he says. It would take a basic understanding of biochemistry to begin to understand the changes in snake venom and if those changes can be induced through alterations in the environment.
"It is a difficult and involved procedure to know such a thing," Campbell says. "I would like to see the evidence. But in the meantime, I will retain a healthy dose of skepticism."
Baugh also claims on his resume that he excavated the remains of an "Indian princess" for the archaeology department of UT. He found "Princess Petite"--as he calls her--in 1985 in Sanderson, Texas, near the Big Bend area. She was child-size, he says, and was buried with her toys and a shawl. Baugh says he called UT and turned over the princess and her grave objects. She was carbon dated as 600 years old, he says.
Dr. Thomas Hester, director of the archaeology research lab at UT, says the only things true about this tale are the carbon dating of the remains and their original location.
"God, no," Hester says, when told about Baugh's account of the excavation. "Baugh was on UT lands and did not have permission to dig that up. It was confiscated from him by the man who leased the land, and was taken to the university."
Hester says a UT file on the dig indicates that Baugh was invited to Sanderson by a Baptist preacher who'd told him about some human remains that had been dug up on UT land by a high school football coach a few years earlier. Baugh called the university office asking for permission to look around the site, and permission was granted. Hester says Baugh was not given permission to dig, however.