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Re: Baugh & Acrocanthosaurus claim



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Friends,

I am sorry to send the following message as an attachment, but I had
a problem sending the message, and this was the only way I could
resend it without retyping it.  If this causes anyone a problem in
reading the message, let me know and I will retype it as a regular
message when I get a change.  Thanks.

Glen Kuban

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>From: paleo@ix.netcom.com (Glen J. Kuban )
Subject: Re: Carl Baugh, Acrocanthosaurus
To:  dinosaur@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu

    In regards to the radio program with Carl Baugh caliming to have 
found the largest Acrocanthosaurus.  
   I am very familiar with Carl Baugh.  Although he is a "creationist," 
even most creationist leaders do not respect him, since he has a 
history of dubious and unfounded claims.  He has been a long time 
advocate of Cretaceous "man tracks" and other alleged out of order 
fossils, such as a human finger, teeth, and catprints from the 
Cretaceous, and Ordovician "hammer," etc.         
    His "team" did find an Acrocanthosaurus near Glen Rose, Texas. 
However, there is more to the story on this than he tells.  
I will get to that in a minute.  First, let me give a little 
background on Baugh and the related claims surrounding the Glen 
Rose, Texas area.
    The Paluxy Riverbed in Glen Rose has long been known as the 
site of many genuine, well preserved theropod and sauropod dinosaur 
tracks, being first publically described by Roland T. Bird in the 
late 1930's.  In more recent decades, the area was a hotbed 
of creationist claims for "man tracks" and other alledged out of order 
fossils.  Since 1980 I have done extensive field work on these claims, 
including the claims by Baugh.  Working initially alone, and later in 
collaboration with Ron Hastings, I was intimately involved in the  
resolution of the "man track" controversy in the mid-1980's, and wrote 
extensively on the subject.  (Two of my papers are in _Dinosaur Tracks 
and Traces_ ed. by Lockely and Gillette (1989, Cambridge University 
Press).  Another long summary is in Arthur Strahler's _Science and 
Earth History_ (Prometheus Books).  After the publication of such 
material by Ron Hastings, me, Jim Farlow, and others on the topic 
(copies of which I can supply to anyone interested), most creationists 
have alrgely abandoned the Paluxy "man track" claims. 
   Most of the "man tracks" calimed by him and other strict 
creationists have been shown to be indistinct  metatarsal dinosaur 
tracks, made by theropods walking in a plantigrade-like manner at 
times, and this impressing their metatarsi (soles and heels) as they 
walked.  When the digit markings on such tracks are indistinct or 
imfilled (due to erosion, mud-collapse, and/or infilling), the oblong 
metatarsal segment at the posterior superficially resembles a giant 
human track.  Why some dinosaurs at times walked this way is uncertain. 
It may have related to a behavior wherein some theropods 
lowered their body into a crouched position while foraging for 
or stalking food.  The lower body position would decrease the angles 
at the heels, thus fostering metatarsal impressions.  Whatever the 
reason for such metapodial tracks, there is now extensive evidence 
that they do exist, are fairly common in the GlenRose area, and explain 
most of the alleged human tracks. Clear specimens are found right in 
the same trails with less distinct specimens that have been called 
"man tracks."  Other "man tracks" are merely erosional features or 
other vague markings, often selectively highlighted to encourage human
like shapes.  After many years of studying the evidence (as well as  
doing a lot of more traditional track work), I have NO EVIDENCE OF ANY 
genuine human tracks in the Paluxy, nor any other out of order fossils. 
    It should be pointed out that most "man track" advocates 
seemed to have been basically sincere but mistaken and overeager in 
their approach to the evidence, and as mentioned, as contrary evidence 
was demonstrated, many creationists have backpeddled on their former 
Paluxy claims.  However, Baugh is a different animal, so to speak.      
        He continues to actively spread such claims, and from the start 
his work seems to have been characterized by deliberate misreprestation 
rather than mistakes.  Several of his "human" tracks show evidence of 
deliberate doctoring, and I and others have personally witnessed him 
mishandling and mistating evidence.  He is also bold in his dubious 
practices.  In one of his own video tapes he is seen gouging crude 
toelike marks into the margins of a vague depression on a friable 
limestone surface while claiming to be "excavating" the toes, and 
engaging in other improper field and lab methods. In one case he simply 
carved a 26 inch plus "man track" into the firm marl atop a track 
surface.  I have a rubber mold of this "giant man track" which he 
called "Max," and it does not vaguely resemble a natural looking human 
track in size, shape or proportions.  Baugh's claims about other out of 
order fossils are just as unfounded.  His "human tooth" was 
demonstrated by Ronnie Hastings and others to be from a pycnodont (a 
Cretaceous fish).  The hammer was found in a concretion in London 
texas, and is not necessarily related to the age of the host rock.  I 
could go on.  You get the picture.  
    Besides the many misrepresentions of evidence by Baugh, another 
reason for his reputation is that he has routinely claimed false 
credentials, including several masters and doctorate degress in 
archaeology, paleontology, and other fields.  In actuality, he has no 
graduate degrees whatsoever, nor even an undergraduate degree in any 
field of science (I carefully checked into each of his claimed 
degrees).  
    Despite all this, and the abandonment of most Paluxy "man track" 
claims even by most creationists, Baugh continues to actively promote 
his claims through his little roadside musem west of Glen Rose, and in
newsletters, appearances at grade schools, churches, on the radio, etc. 
Most local residents and creationist leaders seem to have little regard 
for him or his claims, but he seems to keep finding new converts as 
old ones catch on and fall away.
    Getting to the Actocanthosaurus claim (finally)...Yes, Baugh or 
some associates did in 1986 find an Acrocanthosaurus skeleton (or most 
of one) along the south bank of the Paluxy River, several miles West of 
Glen Rose.  Had the excavation been handled properly, it would have 
been a very important find.  It evidently was a fairly complete 
skeleton, and was located close to the track layers.  Also, few other 
Acrocanthosaurus skeletons are known. Unfortunately, Baugh utterly 
botched the excavation, so we shall never know exactly what was found.  
He and a local church group tried to excavate the entire find within a 
couple days, covered many of the bones with plaster without covering 
them with paper first, and stepped all over on many of the smaller 
bones. By the time I got to the site only a couple days after the 
initial discovery, they had damaged or destroyed most of the bones.  
One large bone partially embedded in marl and partially in a limestone 
layer was the only recognizable bone left when I arrived.  Baugh 
arrived carrying severqal gallons of hydrochloric acid, annoucing that 
he was going to burn the bone out of the rock.  I could not bear to 
stay and watch.  Wann Langston of the University of Texas also arrived 
at the scene shortly after the discovery, but so much damage had been 
done by that time that he refused to get involved.  
    Although the skeleton was found right on the riverbank, which is 
apparently state property (because of easment laws), no one at the 
state level acted to stop the excavation at the time, nor has since  
taken any steps to consfiscate the material, or otherwise pursue the 
matter.  Since the dig, Baugh has apparently done no work on the bones, 
and has refused to turn them over to a competent institution or 
preparator.  The result is that an important find has evidently been 
lost to science.  
    Thus, we may never know for sure how good or large the specimen 
was. Based on the size of the large bone I saw (a hip bone), I would 
say that it was an average size adult.  (I have photos of the exposed 
bone, and some other photos from participants in the dig, in case 
anyone wants to try to judge the size of the animal).  It may be true 
that this was the largest specimen, but then that would not be saying 
much, since few Acrocanthosaurus specimens are known. However, In 1993 
I saw a largely complete Acrocanthosaurus being prepared at the Black 
Hills Institute of Geological Science, and it seemed at least as large 
as the bone I saw at Baugh's dig and in others' photos from the dig.
        As to the claim for a Stegosaurus, this is the first I have heard
of this, and would appreciate any further details you have on it.  Baugh 
does have a tendency to periodically add new twists to old claims, and it
may relate to the same excavation discussed above.  (At first, he said
the bones were from a mammoth or mastodon.  Then he believed they were
from a sauropod.  Later someone informed him they were from an Acro-
canthosaurus, and he went with that.  He does not seem very particular
about what he is claiming, or even if it elicits good or bad
publicity for himself, as long as it sounds momentous, and he is in 
the limelight.  I once heard him claim on a radio show that some workmen
once broke open a rock in a quarry, and out staggered a black, oily 
pterodactyl, proving that the earth could not be millions of years old.
This of course is a curruption of a fictional account by Arthur Conan Doyal, 
but it shows how Baugh really doesn't seem to care how outlandish or
absurd his claims are.  And surprisingly, he always seems to find new 
followers as old ones fall away (preying on rampant scientific illiteracy).
Working in his favor is his smooth and charismatic speaking style, which 
seems to almost mesmerize some people, as well as his claimed credentials 
in both science and religion (he claims to be a minister too, but his only 
church threw him out), and ability to throw around scientific jargon 
(much of it makes no sense, but to many people it sounds impressive).
        I realize this is a long answer to a short question, but I wanted 
you and others to be aware of the history surrounding Baugh and the 
Paluxy claims, in case anything similar comes up again.  By the way, 
those who want confirmation of the things I stated here may wish to 
contact my associate Ron Hastings of Waxahachie, Texas, who also has 
written extensively on the topic (contact me directly by e-mail for his 
address). Another person with whom I have worked on tracksites, and who 
is a track expert and aware of the Paluxy controversy and Baugh's 
claims and work is paleontologist James Farlow of Indian/Purdue Univ at 
Fort Wayne, who monitors this forum.  

Thank you.

Glen J. Kuban

paleo@ix.netcom.com

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