By David May
A slab of North Texas limestone is on track to rock the world, with its two imbedded footprints poised to make a huge impression in scientific and religious circles.
The estimated 140-pound stone was recovered in July 2000 from the bank of a creek that feeds the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, located about 53 miles south of Fort Worth. The find was made just outside Dinosaur Valley State Park, a popular destination for tourists known for its well-preserved dinosaur tracks and other fossils.
The limestone contains two distinct prints – one of a human footprint and one belonging to a dinosaur. The significance of the cement-hard fossil is that it shows the dinosaur print partially over and intersecting the human print.
In other words, the stone’s impressions indicate that the human stepped first, the dinosaur second. If proven genuine, the artifact would provide evidence that man and dinosaur roamed the Earth at the same time, according to those associated with the find and with its safekeeping. It could potentially toss out the window many commonly held scientific theories on evolution and the history of the world.
Finding scholars and experts on evolution, paleontology or creationism to speak about the discovery proved difficult. Some who were contacted said they didn’t want to comment on the prints without a personal inspection or without review of data from scientific tests.
However, Dr. Phillip Murry, a vertebrate paleontology instructor in the Geoscience department of Tarleton State University at Stephenville, Texas, stated in his response to an interview request: “There has never been a proven association of dinosaur (prints) with human footprints.”
The longtime amateur archeologist who found the fossil thinks that statement is now proven untrue.
“It is unbelievable, that’s what it is,” Alvis Delk, 72, said of what could be not only the find of a lifetime, but of mankind.
Delk is a current Stephenville and former Mineral Wells resident (1950-69) who said he found the rock eight years ago while on a hunt with a friend, James Bishop, also of Stephenville, and friend and current fiancee Elizabeth Harris.
The three were searching in July 2000 for Indian artifacts like arrowheads – Delk’s specialty as a hunter and collector since he was 6 years old – when he said a pile of rocks along a creek bank caught his eye.
“I said it looks like something has been washed out of this hole,” Delk told the Mineral Wells Index.
Upon inspection of the pile, he said he saw a dinosaur footprint embedded in a piece of limestone. Delk said he has found and seen dinosaur prints, but now he had one on a piece of rock he could carry off – with Bishop’s help – to keep and add to his collection.
Which is what he did, for nearly eight years. The stone was kept otherwise untouched, stored amongst his other finds, which he said includes over 100,000 Indian artifacts.
A domestic fall from a ladder eight months ago nearly crippled Delk, resulting in surgeries, a long recovery and expensive medical bills. He decided to try and sell some of his archeological treasurers, so he turned to the large piece of limestone, thinking he could clean it up some and sell it to the Creation Evidence Museum located adjacent to Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose.
Two months ago – about the third week of May – Delk said he grabbed a 4-inch brush and began lightly brushing away sediments and deposits from the stone when he noticed something. He began to see another print develop – that of a human – partially beneath the dinosaur print.
“I seen the (human) track coming out and (saw) that it was a man,” Delk said. “I thought to myself, ‘Lord, I’ve been shown man was here when the dinosaur was here.’”
He said he knew what he had to do.
“When I found it, I said this has to get to someone who knows it,” he said. “I took it to Dr. Baugh. He liked to have a heart attack over it. He shed some tears.”
Dr. Carl Baugh is the founder and director of the Creation Evidence Museum and claims doctorates in theology and philosophy in education as well as a master’s degree in archeology. The aim of Baugh’s Creation Evidence Museum is to offer natural evidence to support the theories of creationism, versus the evolutionary perspective heavily portrayed by the neighboring dinosaur attraction operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Baugh said the fossil is the proof he has been searching many years for. He acquired the stone from Delk and has it in safekeeping. He was confident after his initial inspections of the stone that the specimen is genuine. He took it to a medical lab at Glen Rose Medical Center, where he said 800 X-rays were performed in a CT scan procedure.
Baugh said the scans prove that the impressions are real and could not have been carved or etched into the stone.
“The compression lines, the density features, do show, and there is no way to fake that,” he said. “It is possible to carve a track in limestone. But there is no way to compress the material in the rock under the track. That is absolutely impossible. That’s why the CAT scans are so important.”
He said the scans demonstrate the human footprint was made “during locomotion. That’s very important. That distribution is shown here. Compression is in the right place under both prints. Density. Compression, distribution. The density factor is there. Weight distribution. Forward locomotion, rocking of the foot.”
He also noted how the dinosaur’s impression pushed up material from the human print and altered its shape in the area of the intrusion.
The rock is approximately 30 inches by 24 inches. The human footprint, with a deep big toe impression, measures 11 inches in length. Baugh said the theropod track was made by an Acrocanthosaurus. Baugh said this particular track was likely made by a juvenile Acrocanthosaurus, one he said was probably about 20 feet long, stood about 8 feet tall and walked stooped over, weighing a few tons.
Its tracks common in the Glen Rose area, the Acrocanthosaurus is a dinosaur that many experts believe existed primarily in North America during the mid-Cretaceous Period, approximately 125 million to 100 million years ago.
Baugh said Delk’s discovery casts doubts on that theory. Baugh said he believes both sets of prints were made “within minutes, or no more than hours of each other” about 4,500 years ago, around the time of Noah’s Flood. He said the clay-like material that the human and dinosaur stepped in soon hardened, becoming thick, dense limestone common in North Texas.
He said the human print matches seven others found in the same area, stating the museum has performed excavations since 1982 in the area Baugh has dubbed the “Alvis Delk Cretaceous Footprint” discovery.
Baugh said he knows there are and will be skeptics, especially since the find is very recent and so far has been tested only in a medical laboratory by a medical doctor. Still, he said he is so confident in the authenticity of the specimen he is ready to put his reputation entirely on the line. He said he is willing put the rock to any non-destructive tests.
“It’s dynamite,” Baugh said of the fossil.
Left an impression
Bishop, himself an avid hunter of fossils and Indian artifacts, was initially reluctant to be associated with the find. But he said he knows it is a significant discovery and that he is part of what is likely to become a major story throughout scientific circles.
“Yeah, it was a nice find,” said Bishop. “I know it’s going to change history. That’s pretty heavy.”
A man of Christian beliefs who is a member of the First Assembly of God Church in Stephenville, he said his hopes are that the stone will “disprove Darwin’s theory. God made man. Man did not evolve from ape.”
Someone else who has had a close up, personal inspection of the stone is David Lines, who photographed the stone for Baugh, which Baugh has included in posters and on his Web site www.creationevidence.org
A technical writer for Texas Instruments in Dallas, Lines said he’s no expert on rocks, but he said he has no doubt the Delk rock is real and the prints are legitimate.
“I have really worked hard to figure out how it could be faked,” said Lines.
Lines said his photographs also show the rock contains a number of fossils commonly found in North Texas such as small seashells and shellfish, a fact he said lends credence to the stone’s authenticity.
“When I saw this, I said this is too good to be true,” said Lines. “If someone found a way to fake that, they could also get a patent for concrete that would far surpass anything.”
Delk’s own daughter, Kristi Delk, is a geology major at Tarleton State University in Stephenville and holds different beliefs from her dad about the creation of Earth and the origins of man.
She said she wants to see data from more tests before jumping to any conclusions.
“I haven’t come to terms with it,” she said. “I am skeptical, actually.”
But she said if verified, this rock could change her entire way of thinking, along with the thinking of a lot of other people.
“It’s going to change all the pale-ethnological principles,” she said.
Baugh added he is ready to begin speaking more about his new prized possession. He said he hopes this find will lead to more balanced educational teachings in classrooms and school textbooks.
“I don’t think it is going to displace the theory of evolution,” said Baugh. “My hope is that the scientific concepts of archeology and paleontology will be used under the guidelines of the Texas schoolbook committee. Any evidence supporting that should be presented, and hopefully this particular fossil will be presented, for the students to be able to see that there is evidence supporting an alternative concept as opposed to just evolution.”
Mineral Wells Index, July 27, 2008