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Man tracks and other good stuff
OK, Ralph, I'm prodded.
My own involvement in the Paluxy River "man track" controversy has
been limited. I began studying the footprints there in the early 1980s,
and have been returning to Glen Rose every so often ever since. I have been
mainly involved in systematic studies of the sauropod and theropod tracks,
and this work is on-going. Ultimately I hope to do a systematic description
of the theropod prints, but doing it has to wait until I finish some background
research on footprints of modern and extinct ground birds (trust me; there is
a connection), phalangeal proportions in dinosaur feet (hence all those
nasty cracks that Tom and Ralph keep making about feet and me), and a careful
re-examination of Hitchcock's dinosaur ichnotaxa. But I digress...
OK, I looked at Paluxy River "man tracks" early on in my work, and
concluded that there was considerably less to this than met the eye. I
thought I'd eventually mention them as a (pardon) footnote to what I'd
write about the dinosaur tracks.
However, both Ronnie Hastings and Glen Kuban, independently of me and
initially of each other, were also mucking around in the Paluxy, and they
did some swell work on the man track business--much more than I have.
At the end of this message I'll type a brief bibliography of Paluxy River
references that'll get interested parties into the literature.
In brief, though, most of the Paluxy River "man tracks" aren't footprints
of any kind at all. Some of them are fakes, but most of them are simply
erosional features in the bedrock of the river. However, some of the man
tracks (notably those in what the creationists called the Taylor trackway)
clearly are footprints that occur in good trackway sequence. Kuban, Hastings,
and I have examined these and other such occurrences carefully, and it
seems that the "real" man tracks are merely poorly preserved three-toed
dinosaur prints. The sediment was VERY gooey when the beasts were moving
through, and deformed plastically into a variety of interesting shapes.
In fact, there's a really cool trail that I dubbed the punctuated equilibrium
trackway because in two steps it evolves from typical theropod to humanoid
foot morphology. There were other preservational things going on as well,
but I'll refer you to the following references for details.
I imagine that I'm one of those nasty chaps who is supposed to be
running around the Paluxy filling in real human footprints with concrete.
Why not? As a college professor I've done odder things in my time...
And geez...I'm a religious man myself. Just imagine what mischief I could
do if I were a hard core secular humanistic site defacer!
Eventually I plan to publish a complete description of the morphology
of tridacty dinosaur tracks from Texas, but that's a ways down the road.
There is still much field work to do. In fact, later this summer, all of the
Paluxy River hotshots are getting together to assist Texas Parks and Wildlife
with a massive field mapping program. Jeff Pittman is eventually going to
create a CD-ROM data base and virtual reality Paluxy River field trip out of
Bird, R.T. 1985. Bones for Barnum Brown: Adventures of a Dinosaur Hunter.
Texas Christian University Press.
J.O. Farlow. 1987. Lower Cretaceous Dinosaur Tracks, Paluxy River Valley,
Texas. South-Central Section, Geological Society of America, Baylor
University, Waco, Texas.
J.O. Farlow. 1992. Of tracks and the river. In W.H. Shore, editor,
Mysteries of Life and the Universe: New Essays from America's Finest
Writers on Science. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. (Note: I DIDN'T choose
the title for this book, but hey, if the shoe fits...)
J.O. Farlow. 1993. The Dinosaurs of Dinosaur Valley State Park. Texas
Parks and Wildlife Press.
J.O. Farlow, J.G. Pittman, and J.M. Hawthorne. 1989. Brontopodus birdi,
Lower Cretaceous sauropod footprints from the U.S. Gulf Coastal Plain.
In D.D. Gillette and M.G. Lockley, editors, Dinosaur Tracks and Traces,
Cambridge Univ. Press.
J.M. Hawthorne. 1990. Dinosaur track-bearing strata of the Lampasas Cut
Plain and Edwards Plateau, Texas. Baylor Geological Studies Bulletin 49
G.J. Kuban. 1989. Color distinctions and other curious features of dinosaur
tracks near Glen Rose, Texas. In Gillette and Lockley.
G.J. Kuban. 1989. Elongate dinosaur tracks. In Gillette and Lockley.
J.G. Pittman. 1989. Stratigraphy, lithology, depositional environment,
and track type of dinosaur track-bearing beds of the Gulf Coastal Plain.
In Gillette and Lockley.
Also, see the journal Creation/Evolution, volumes 5(1), 1985, and 6(1), 1986,
for several articles, including good stuff by Hastings.
That should get you into the primary literature. Some of this is pretty
HILARIOUS stuff--no, I don't mean my own "serious" work, although some might