The ambiguous headline announcing a paper published in the Geological Bulletin of China has caused some folks to do a double take. Something was gained in the translation! Of course, the intended meaning is that humans coexist with the tracks.
A team of Chinese and American researchers—an archaeologist, a historian, and a biologist—investigated the relationship between dinosaur tracks and the people of Lianhua Baozhai in southwestern China. The area has been occupied for hundreds of years, and records indicate its importance as a refuge as far back as the Han Dynasty (202 BC–AD 220).
The Lotus Mountain Fortress is also home to 350–400 Cretaceous dinosaur footprints. The locals think the tracks resemble “golden lotus from the earth” and reference them in folklore. Graduate student Xing Lida said, “Research shows that dinosaur tracks impacted ancient Chinese place names and folklore, so place names and folklore can be major clues for us in tracing dinosaur tracks.”
The paper makes no claim that dinosaurs and humans lived together, only that the presence of the tracks has contributed to local culture.
The paper makes no claim that dinosaurs and humans lived together, only that the presence of the tracks has contributed to local culture. One of the study’s co-authors, Adrienne Mayor, attributes the erroneous publicity to an “overenthusiastic and confused reporter [who] has caused a nasty mess for the co-authors,” adding, “We are trying to get the news outlets in China to correct the misconceptions they have perpetuated.”1
Despite the fear expressed by a columnist at The Examiner that such misinformation “is sure to be grabbed by a host of uninformed with their own particular agendas,”2 we at Answers in Genesis have not hitched our wagon to this star. To date no one has reported indisputable evidence of fossils (or tracks) of humans and dinosaurs together.
Dinosaurs and humans did live at the same time. Our confidence about their coexistence comes from the Bible, not the fossil record. Land animals—including dinosaurs—and Adam and Eve were made on the sixth day of Creation and so naturally coexisted.
Nevertheless, the fossil record is consistent with the biblical record. The fossil record is documentation of the order of rapid burial due to the global Flood and Flood-related catastrophes, not a timeline stretching back millions of years.
We are confident that dinosaurs shared the earth with mankind, were preserved on the Ark along with the other land animals, and became extinct sometime after the Flood. So why don’t we see human and dinosaur fossils and tracks together?
While we would not have a problem if human and dinosaur fossils ever were found together, we don’t really expect them to be. The vast majority of fossils are marine invertebrates, with land vertebrates comprising a tiny fraction of the fossilized population buried during the Flood year and its aftermath. The surface of the earth was not instantaneously engulfed in water, but the Bible indicates the waters continued to rise for weeks before finally covering all the dry land. Those humans who were not engulfed in tsunami-like surges would have been able to flee rising water for a time. Once they finally succumbed, only those who were rapidly buried beneath sediment could have been fossilized, with most of the dead simply decaying or being eaten by scavengers. Furthermore, we would only expect to find humans and dinosaur fossils together if they were sharing the same ecosystem at the time of the Flood—and even then hydrodynamic forces would not necessarily bury them together. Thus the absence of human fossils in the rock layers where dinosaur fossils are found does not confound creationists.
The biblical account in Genesis does explain what we see in the fossil record. Read more about human and dinosaur fossils at “Why Don’t We Find Human & Dinosaur Fossils Together?” and more about the order of deposition in the fossil record at “Order in the Fossil Record” and “Doesn’t the Order of Fossils in the Rock Record Favor Long Ages?”
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