By David May
It’s a relatively small step forward, but one thing has become certain about the intersecting footprints contained in a piece of North Texas limestone – they were made by stepping into the rock when it was soft.
At least that’s the opinion of a local radiologist who independently reviewed imagery data of what is steadily becoming a well-known and controversial slab of rock.
“Something compressed that rock,” said Dr. Charles Myers, head of the radiology unit at Palo Pinto General Hospital, who on Thursday reviewed CAT scan images – digital high-tech X-rays – of the stone. “Displacement caused by stepping, I totally agree with that. I think that is conceivable.”
But that is all that can be said at this point with any certainty.
More questions remain about the rock dubbed the “Alvis Delk Cretaceous Footprint” that depicts a dinosaur stepping into a human footprint. If genuine, the purported discovery would overturn 150 years of evolutionary and scientific theory that says man and dinosaur did not walk the Earth together.
The Mineral Wells Index was the first news organization to report on the stone in its July 27 edition two weeks ago. The approximately 2-foot by 3-foot limestone was reportedly found eight years ago by former Mineral Wells resident and amateur archeologist Alvis Delk, who now lives in Stephenville, Texas, and his friend James Bishop, also of Stephenville, when they were fossil and Indian artifact hunting along a creek off the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas.
Delk said at the time they saw only the dinosaur print. They carried the estimated 140-pound stone away, and Delk took it home and left it virtually untouched until this past May when he said he pulled it out, began brushing it, and saw the human print appear, and saw that the dinosaur print intruded over and into the human print.
He took the stone to the Creation Evidence Museum at Glen Rose and its founder and curator Carl Baugh, who purchased the stone from Delk. One of the first things Baugh did was take the stone to the Glen Rose Medical Facility, where CAT scans produced more than 800 images that can be viewed individually or in continuous three-dimensional loops.
Baugh said the results of those scans showed evidence of material compression and areas of higher density as well as locomotion and proved, at least to him, the rock is genuine.
The Index was provided two CD-ROM disk copies of those scans. Those were taken to PPGH and reviewed Thursday by Myers, along with several interested radiologists and members of the unit.
Myers quickly identified the scans and the measurements that he said indicate areas of compression around the prints, significantly higher material densities in key places such as around the edges and between the toes of both the human and dinosaur prints and within the human print around the intrusion of the dinosaur’s middle toe. Myers said the images also show displacement of material – areas of less density – under both footprints, including more displacement directly under the dinosaur print.
He noted the rock was scanned in 2.5 millimeter slices, according the notation on the digital images, and that the density comparison measurements were made in so-called Houndsfield units. In density measurements, Myers said, water is measured at zero – no density – while fat actually measures in CAT scans in negative density. Bone will have much higher density ratings than blood and tissue.
The areas of higher compression and density appear brighter in the images, while areas of less density – essentially the absence of solid material or presence of softer material, appear darker.
Proof that the prints were not made – in whole or partially – by means of tool or chemical etching tosses out some of the debunking theories that are already circulating the Internet by proclaimed evolution experts who have quickly judged the rock a fake on the basis of nothing more than seeing the stone’s photograph online.
“Chemical etching, no,” said Myers. “I don’t think that would explain why there is more density in the rock adjacent to the footprint. It looks like there was some sort of impression made.”
“It does not look like it was a uniform rock that had uniform density throughout and was then etched out,” he added. “It doesn’t look like that because of the increased density (around the footprints) compared to the overall density of the rest of the rock. That argues against an etching process. But that doesn’t say when it happened or how it happened. There was probably a physical impression made on the rock, but when or by what, I don’t think we can say from this.”
Myers questioned some things apparent in the scans, such as the depth of impression of the big human toe having similar depth to the dinosaur track. But he said there are many factors that could come into play, and that would not be his area of expertise.
Across the Internet
One evolutionist “blogger” questioned the ability of a medical facility having a CAT scan machine powerful enough to penetrate the stone, but the images of the rock provide images from top to bottom of the approximately 5.5-inch cement-hard rock, and the beam intensity used by the Glen Rose Medical Center’s lab – 120 kv – was not that high, said Myers.
“We scan dense structures all the time,” he said.
Evolutionist Gary S. Hurd, claiming a doctorate in Social Science (emphasis in Anthropology) from the University of California-Irvine, has been one of the more outspoken Internet critics of the stone. He has reviewed only the photo he downloaded from the Index’s Web site.
Hurd was one to question the ability of a medical lab to perform a thorough CAT scan of the stone. He also said it was evident to him in looking at the photograph that the human toes were carved out – added to the stone after it had hardened.
That’s a claim Myers says cannot be true based on the CAT scan images and density comparisons.
But Hurd, like others on the Internet quick to dismiss the Delk stone as a fraud, said in only viewing the photograph he has seen enough.
“You don’t even need more than the photograph from the Mineral Wells Index, which was much higher resolution than from Baugh’s Web site, to see that this is object is a fake,” he wrote in his online blog.
Proving the prints were made by something or someone actually stepping into the stone when it was still soft material doesn’t prove the rock is authentic based on the claims and story behind it. But now knowing the impressions are real and made at the time the material was soft leads to the next obvious step – proving the age of the stone. Is it thousands of years old? Or did it come about much more recently than that?
“I think the issue really comes down to how old this rock is,” said Myers. “If the rock is old, then the prints had to be made at that time. I think it would add a lot of weight to it, if this is an old rock. I would think it would be very easy to find out how old this rock is.”
It will likely be easy to verify the age of the rock, once the proper laboratory can test some of its material. The Index contacted two independent Metroplex labs that deal in scientific forensics testing, but neither said they could conduct the necessary testing to prove the rock’s age, such as determining the presence or levels of certain chemicals, ores or minerals. So far, university science departments in Texas contacted by the Index have not shown interest in testing the stone.
Baugh said he plans to have a thin slice taken from the rock for chemical testing.
“We have a lab in Canada waiting for it,” Baugh told the Index last week. “It’s a certified lab. We could have it done locally, but objectivity is very important.”
Baugh said he hopes to compare thin slices from the Delk rock with thin slices taken from another rock excavated near the same area as the Delk discovery.
“It takes time,” said Baugh. “That’s no problem, although we’d like to have all the answers now.”
Baugh said he feels the CAT scans provide the answers he needs to state the rock and what it depicts are real.
“The compression and weight distribution of the track … there is no way that can be fabricated. But we need to get it tested,” he said.
Paleontologist Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones has examined the rock and the CAT scans for Baugh.
“You can’t fake pressure distortions underneath the print,” he said. “That makes it absolutely authentic. The only negative with me is that we weren’t able to find it in place.”
Baugh agrees that is a valid argument skeptics can make – that the rock was removed from its location. But he said testing its chemical composition will remove any questions about whether it is legitimate limestone.
Independent microscopic testing would also be able to verify claims by Baugh that the rock contains many small fossils that are common in North Texas rock such as shellfish and small seashells, as well as other small organisms. For some, that alone will not be proof the rock is legitimate limestone.
Jones, who claims doctorates in education and theology from the University of Missouri with 80 college hours in geology, said there are other striking characteristics about the stone.
“There are little details that, if it’s faked the person would have to be extremely skilled and extremely knowledgeable,” he said. “Limestone is ‘squooshed’ up between the toes. The great toe is extremely well preserved. Lateral ridge, ball of the foot, the arch. It looks like the toes are sitting on a little bit of a terrace. That’s the way the feet are.”
He also pointed out staining evident in the rock’s surfaces. “You would have to be exceptionally good. You are looking at a little chemistry there. It is extremely difficult,” Jones said.
Jones noted that limestone contains calcium carbonate, a natural cementing agent. He said the prints were made about the time the stone was hardening – “setting up just like the concrete in your driveway. If it had water in (the prints) it would mush and it wouldn’t be this well preserved. The conditions were perfect.”