Creation Factsheet No. 28: Footprints in Stone
Factsheet No. 28
It is popularly believed that the geological record reveals a neat evolutionary development, but there have been some well-authenticated discoveries which present real problems for those who believe in evolution. These include 'out-of-place' footprints preserved in rock layers. This article takes a look at some examples. It should be noted that some of these discoveries were made before Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859, even though the theory of long ages' had already become popular.
HORSES BEFORE THEIR TIME
According to evolution, modern-type horses did not appear until about 2 million years ago, having evolved from a four-toed ancestor known as Eohippos. However, there are several examples of horse-like prints from rocks dated millions of years earlier. In Russia, paleontologists uncovered 86 horse-shoe-shaped tracks in '90-million year-old' Cretaceous sandstone. This was the period when dinosaurs are supposed to have ruled the earth. A Russian newspaper reported: 'It is completely obvious that these are not the tracks of a dinosaur.... It is also difficult to place them with any confidence with any known group of animals the horse which they are now compared with, indisputably appeared much later.'1 Edward Hitchcock reported that, in November 1857, in the Middlesex Quarry, Portland, Connecticut, USA, he saw two rows of tracks in a two-ton slab of stone, which he described thus: 'Imprint of the foot almost exactly like that of a horse with shoes, viz: a ring-like depression about the size of a small horse shoe, with a somewhat oval elevation within, showing that the under side of the foot was hollow. No claws have made an impression.'2 These tracks were in '195 million-year-old' Triassic rock!
Did horses leave their hoof-prints in Cretaceous rocks?
Charles W Gilmore, Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the United States National Museum, reported the discovery of four distinct trails of horse-like prints in the Grand Canyon.3 These were in Permian rocks supposedly over 225 million years old! An interesting point was that all the tracks seemed to be leading uphill. Were these animals seeking to escape from the flood? These same tracks were mentioned in the United States Geological Survey.4
A sketch of mammal tracks from Carboniferous sandstone, Northumberland.
OUT-OF-PLACE MAMMAL AND REPTILE TRACKS
Evolutionists claim that the first mammals appeared around 200 million years ago in the Triassic period, but in 1873 Thomas Barkas reported the finding of the tracks of a 'small, four-legged mammal' in Carboniferous sandstone in a Northumberland quarry 100 million years too early according to conventional evolutionary dating.5 In 1966, in Pennsylvania, John Mittle discovered that clearly identifiable tracks all a three-toed reptile similar to a dinosaur.6 Now, there is nothing unusual about finding dinosaur tracks, except that these tracks were in Silurian rocks, and dinosaurs are not supposed to have evolved until the Triassic '200 million years' later! Evolutionary scientists are perplexed about these tracks, and one, Dr. Richard L. Myres, of Moravian College, ventured to suggest that they were actually worm trails, which leaves us to imagine a hitherto unknown creature a three-toed, bi-pedal worm!
A three-toed, bi-pedal worm?
The first birds are said to have appeared on earth 150 million years ago, having evolved from reptilian ancestors, but the clear imprints of birds' feet have been discovered in Carboniferous rocks. In a paper read before the American Palaeontological Society on December 30th, 1932, C.M. Sternberg described tracks found in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1841 and pointed out that they were mentioned in the proceedings of The Geological Society of London in 1842. He noted that the tracks had been made by a bipedal animal and went on: 'Superficially they resemble the tracks of some wading birds, but of course, there is little possibility of their having been made by birds.'7 (emphasis added)
Tracks of modern wading birds closely resemble fossil tracks found in Triassic and Carboniferous rocks.
In 1844, Dr. Alfred T. King did not hesitate to describe tracks found in the Carboniferous rocks of Pennsylvania, USA, as 'bird-tracks', whilst recognising that this claim would be met with scepticism by geologists.8 These tracks are 110 million years too early according to the geological column!
A modern wading bird.
In 2002, a popular science journal reported the discovery of prints resembling those of modern wading birds in Triassic sediments in Argentina. According to evolutionary dating these rocks were formed 55 million years before the first birds appeared! Researchers, aware of the dilemma this find presents them with, have attributed the tracks to.. 'an unknown group of theropods showing some avian characteristics.'9
In each of the above cases there would have been no argument about the authenticity of the tracks had they fitted the evolutionary pattern. Like the many out-of-place fossils, these tracks are simply ignored or rejected because they do not fit a preconceived idea. This is not science, but prejudice! The theory of evolution and its system of fossil dating is seriously flawed because it cannot cope with such evidence. Creationists, on the other hand, have no problem with these tracks, believing that all types of living creatures were created, and lived on earth together, so could have left their tracks in rocks of any 'age'.
- Moskovskaya Pravda (Moscow Truth), February 5th, 1984.
- Edward Hitchcock, Report on the Sandstone of the Connecticut Valley, Boston 1858.
- Charles W. Gilmore, Fossil Footprints from the Grand Canyon Smithsonian Misc. Collections, Vol. 77, No. 9, 1926.
- U.S.G.S. Professional Paper No. 1173: The Super Group of the Grand Canyon.
- W. A S. Sargeant, A History and Bibliography of the Study of Fossil Vertebrate Footprints in the British Isles. 1974.
- C. Calais & P. J. Willis Info Journal, Spring 1968, Vol. 1, No. 3. (International Fortean Organization)
- G.M. Sternberg, Carboniferous Tracks from Nova Scotia, Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Vol. 44. October 31st, 1933.
- Alfred T. King Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Vol. 11, No. 6, Nov-Dec 1844.
- 'Bird-like Footprints from the Late Triassic', Nature. No. 417, 2002, pp. 936-938
We gratefully acknowledge the help of Ron Calais (USA), for providing copies of some of the articles quoted.
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