In the late 1960s, American detective author Erle Stanley Gardner stood before a collection of over 30,000 figurines. He had found out about this collection many years ago and felt a deep sense of astonishment when seeing it in person at this modest house in the small rural village of Acámbaro in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Gardner, the writer who came up with great titles like The Case of the Black Cat and Granny Get Yours Gun, and who created such memorable character as Perry Mason, Della Street and Lester Leith had a real-life mystery in front of him.
The figurine was fantastic and seemingly out of place. Many of them featured people of various races and some 10 % of them looked like our modern depictions of dinosaurs. These dinosaurs were sometime accompanied by humans; some of the figure had dinosaurs wrestling with people or men even riding dinosaurs.
For many years claims were made by strict creationists that human footprints or “giant man tracks” occur alongside fossilized dinosaur tracks in the limestone beds of the Paluxy River, near Glen Rose Texas. If true, such a finding would dramatically contradict the conventional geologic timetable, which holds that humans did not appear on earth until over 60 million years after the dinosaurs became extinct. However, the “man track” claims have not stood up to close scientific scrutiny, and in recent years have been abandoned even by most creationists. The supposed human tracks have involved a variety of phenomena, including forms of elongate, metatarsal dinosaur tracks, erosional features, indistinct markings of uncertain origin, and a smaller number of doctored and carved specimens (most of the latter occurring on loose blocks of rock). A few individuals continue to promote the Paluxy “man tracks” or alleged human tracks in pre-Tertiary rocks from other localities, but such claims are not considered credible by either mainstream scientists or major creationist groups.
Although genuine dinosaur tracks are abundant in Texas, claims of human tracks have not withstood close scientific scrutiny, and in recent years have been largely abandoned even by most creationists. Alleged Paluxy “man tracks” involve a variety of spurious phenomena, including metatarsal dinosaur tracks, erosional features, indistinct markings of unknown origin, and a few loose carvings.
* The term “dinosaurs” is used here in the traditional sense, that is, excluding birds. This caveat must be made in that many scientists now classify birds (using cladistic taxonomy) as essentially feathered theropod dinosaurs. In other words, the term dinosaurs in this article refers to non-avian dinosaurs.
Note: Many sites outside Dinosaur Valley State Park are on or alongside private property. Permission should be secured from the respective land owners and managers before visiting such sites. Also, no excavation or other disturbance of tracks in the Paluxy, beyond light sweeping or brushing to clean them, may be conducted without written permission of the appropriate authorities, including the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, and inside Dinosaur Valley State Park, the park superintendent.