More than 1,000 dinosaur footprints found on a rock in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (on the border of Arizona and Utah) have scientists making dance jokes galore. “Get out there and try stepping in their footsteps, and you feel like you are playing the game Dance Dance Revolution that teenagers dance on,” cracks the University of Utah’s Marjorie Chan.
The footprints are from at least four different dinosaur species and are from both adults and juveniles.
Publishing in the journal PALAIOS, Chan’s team reports on the odd site, which covers just under an acre (0.3 ha). The footprints are from at least four different dinosaur species and are from both adults and juveniles. There are also the marks of dinosaur tails dragging along the ground. (See photos of the site hosted by National Geographic News and http://www.livescience.com/php/multimedia/imagedisplay/img_display.php?pic=081020-eubrontes-print-02.jpg .)
The scientists believe the sandstone site may have been near an ancient watering hole among sand dunes, all of which was buried by the shifting sand 190 million years ago.
So—is that all?
It’s interesting to read how news organizations frequently pass off such news as this “dinosaur dance floor” find unchallenged. But the National Geographic News’s coverage reminds us how much interpretation goes into science.
Whereas other news sources plainly state the discovery of dinosaur footprints as a scientific fact, National Geographic News’s Rebecca Carroll quotes dissenting paleontologists Alan Titus and Andrew Milner. “I’ve observed thousands of tracks [of one of the dinosaurs the team identified] in early Jurassic rocks of the Colorado Plateau and have never seen one that looked like the one in the news release,” said Titus.
According to Milner, “What they’re showing here look nothing like [the tracks of one of the dinosaur species] in my opinion.”
And paleontologist Jim Kirkland, who accepts that the footprints were made by dinosaurs, nevertheless said he is “leery” about the identification of tail-dragging marks.
Now, these may all turn out to be dinosaur tracks and marks indeed; our point is just that the news media is usually quick to hype the findings of one science team (which has an incentive to make its discovery as impressive-sounding as possible) and present it all as science fact. Bible believers should keep this in mind when it comes to any sort of news, and especially science news.
As for the tracks, they certainly could be legitimate dinosaur tracks (some especially have a clear pattern of toes), despite other scientists’ skepticism. Our rhetorical question is, if they are footprints (and tail prints), how likely is it that they would be preserved (as sandstone) without the catastrophic forces of water and high pressures, such as the Genesis Flood?
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