The Texas Dinosaur/"Man Track" Controversy
Originally posted by stirling
Can you debunk the human/ dino footprints in texas?
The supposed human tracks have involved a variety of phenomena, including metatarsal dinosaur tracks, erosional features, and carvings. The
largest number of "man tracks" are forms of elongate, metatarsal dinosaur tracks, made by bipedal dinosaurs that sometimes impressed their metatarsi
(heels and soles) as they walked. When the digit impressions of such tracks are subdued by mud-backflow or secondary infilling, a somewhat human shape
often results. Other alleged "man tracks" including purely erosional features (often selectively highlighted to encourage human shapes), indistinct
marks of undertain origin, and a smaller number of doctored and carved tracks (most of the latter occurring on loose blocks of rock).
When I first heard of this years ago, I emailed the Curator of Paleontology & Geology
New Mexico Museum of Natural History because the museum has a collection containing several thousands of tracks from the sites. I don’t know if the
any of the links in the email are still active.
my question to Dr. Lucas:
Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2001 1:25 PM
Subject: Permian trackway
Dear Dr. Lucas;
I read with interest the article on your museum web site about the Permian
trackway finds of Jerry MaCDonald. The reason I ended up there, I was doing
an internet search on Mr. MacDonald, because of a claim made on this
that human tracks were also found in the trackways. Pictures and claim here:
If you are interested, have the time and are so inclined, could you tell me
what, if anything, that could be considered "problematica" was ever found
there? I personally do not believe that humans ever co-existed with
dinosaurs, but this has sparked a debate on one of the science discussion
boards, and I would like to enter into the fray with a little more knowledge
of this area than what I have now.
Thank you for your time,
the answer I received back today:
Thanks for your inquiry.
I looked at the website you forwarded. Certainly that is not Jerry MacDonald
in the photo, nor is the track shown from any of the tracksites he
I believe the website is simply misleading.
MacDonald never found anything that remotely resembles a human footprint, or
bird or mammal tracks at any of the Permian tracksites. The only
"problematica" found were poorly preserved tracks of vertebrates that we
could not identify with certainty, and some difficult to identify arthropod
MacDonald wrote a book about his discoveries, and we published 2 scientific
monographs on those Permian tracks, and no assertions were ever made about
human, bird or mammal tracks at the sites. Furthermore, I have studied all
the sites, and our collection contains several thousands of tracks from the
sites, none of humans, birds or mammals.
I think the people who constructed that web site forgot about good old
Dr. Spencer G. Lucas
Curator of Paleontology & Geology
New Mexico Museum of Natural History
1801 Mountain Road N.W.
Albuquerque, NM 87104 USA
tel: 505-841-2873 fax: 505-841-2866
I am Spencer's graduate student and a co-author of NMMNH Bulletin 6,
Permian Footprints and Facies, which is a 300-page scientific volume
dedicated to the study of the footprints Jerry found and others of the
same age throughout New Mexico and Arizona.
I can assure you that:
(1) I have looked at almost every Permian footprint slab in our collection, conservatively estimated at 8 tons of rock and well over 10,000 tracks,
and have not seen any "problematica" that even remotely resemble human footprints, let alone the one on the website you saw.
(2) The Ph.D.s who have examined these footprints and published scientific papers on the Permian footprints include Hartmut Haubold, Adrian Hunt,
Martin Lockley, and Jim Farlow, four very big names in the field of ichnology (the study of trace fossils such as tracks, trails, and footprints).
These trackways have been studies by dozens of others, and no "problematica" resembling humanoid tracks exists.
(3) We are very sure that the tracks are Permian, approximately 275 million years old. We know this from diverse lines of evidence, including
stratigraphic relationships and paleontology, including fusulinids, conodonts, and larger fossils.a
(4) the trackway on the website does not match any Permian rock in New Mexico or Arizona. In fact, I think it looks very much like Recent beach mud
or sand. I am a little jealous of the trackmaker, however, as they have better arches than I do.
I hope this helps,
Andrew B. Heckert
Dept. Earth and Planetary Sciences
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131