Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fuller, Sakar and Jones: ID v. Science

According to him (Fuller), Judge Jones incorrectly appealed to the motivation of scientific work to decide the Dover case against ID when he noted the religious motivations of the Dover school board as part of his reasoning. Here the Judge was clearly wrong and he has been equally strongly criticized for using the demarcation criteria that Fuller defends (Sarkar, forthcoming). Sahotra Sarkar

I have not read Fuller’s book, nor do I intend to. Consequently, I do not know if Sarkar has correctly represented Fuller’s position in the quote above, but we can take it as representing Sarkar’s opinion that Judge Jones inappropriately used the motivation of the Dover school board members as part of his decision. Sarkar is actually making two objections to Jones 2005, the second being the use of demarcation criteria in the section of the decision entitled 4. Whether ID is Science

There seems to be a curious misunderstanding by Sarkar of what the Judge is able to do in issuing a decision. He cannot draw from information not accessible to cross-examination. If one actually reads the trial transcripts, a great deal of discussion is about what is to become the case evidence. This is of greater importance that Sarkar and others seem to acknowledge because if something is not part of the trial record then it cannot be part of the decision (apart from stipulated “common knowledge” and prior law.)

Sarkar has first made the misinterpretation that Jones relied on the religious motivation of the Dover school board’s creationist members to introduce ID into the science classes to assess the scientific validity of ID. The statements of a school board member’s motivation were only used to evaluate the plaintiff’s argument regarding the endorsement test. Was the aim of the government (the school board) to promote science education, or was it to promote religion? The Judge clearly recognized that the aim was to promote a creationist religion. Beyond that, the question remained of whether ID was equally religious, or might it have scientific validity.

This question was examined from two points of view, one was the motivation and goals of the principle architects of ID; specifically Johnson, Behe and Dembski as well as the Discovery Institute Center for Renewal of Science and Culture. As always the Judge is limited the evidence admitted in the trial record. Jones correctly concluded that, “The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism,” and, “ID aspires to change the ground rules of science to make room for religion, specifically, beliefs consonant with a particular version of Christianity.” But, it was not in reference to whether or not ID is science, but to the question if “An Objective Observer Would Know that ID and Teaching About "Gaps" and "Problems" in Evolutionary Theory are Creationist, Religious Strategies that Evolved from Earlier Forms of Creationism.”?

Writing in the section “4. Whether ID is Science” Jones observed, “ID is predicated on supernatural causation, as we previously explained and as various expert testimony revealed. (17:96 (Padian); 2:35-36 (Miller); 14:62 (Alters)). ID takes a natural phenomenon and, instead of accepting or seeking a natural explanation, argues that the explanation is supernatural. (5:107 (Pennock)). Further support for the conclusion that ID is predicated on supernatural causation is found in the ID reference book to which ninth grade biology students are directed, Pandas. Pandas states, in pertinent part, as follows:
Darwinists object to the view of intelligent design because it does not give a natural cause explanation of how the various forms of life started in the first place. Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly, through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.

P-11 at 99-100 (emphasis added). Stated another way, ID posits that animals did not evolve naturally through evolutionary means but were created abruptly by a non-natural, or supernatural, designer. Defendants' own expert witnesses acknowledged this point. (21:96-100 (Behe); P-718 at 696, 700 ("implausible that the designer is a natural entity"); 28:21-22 (Fuller) (". . . ID's rejection of naturalism and commitment to supernaturalism . . ."); 38:95-96 (Minnich) (ID does not exclude the possibility of a supernatural designer, including deities).

It is notable that defense experts' own mission, which mirrors that of the IDM itself, is to change the ground rules of science to allow supernatural causation of the natural world, which the Supreme Court in Edwards and the court in McLean correctly recognized as an inherently religious concept. Edwards, 482 U.S. at 591-92; McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1267. First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to "change the ground rules" of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology. (28:26 (Fuller); 21:37-42 (Behe)). Moreover, defense expert Professor Minnich acknowledged that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened to allow consideration of supernatural forces. (38:97 (Minnich)).”

Such a long quotation is needed to illustrate that Jones has not invented any “demarcation criteria” but is relying solely on the testimony and trial exhibits to examine if ID could be taught without introducing a religious component. While I might have titled that section “Whether ID is Strictly Science,” careful reading while attending to the fact that his is a legal proceeding and not a philosophy seminar makes it clear that Jones is asking an appropriate question and has properly used the trial evidence to answer it. Until Sarkar joins Fuller advocating the supernatural entities and magic are “science,” he has no criticism of the Kitzmiller decision regarding “demarcation criteria.” If he wishes to argue, it is with the expert witnesses and not Jones in any event.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This week in OOL

As an example of how fast the abiogenesis literature is growing, here are two articles from the Aug 15, 2008 issue of Science that are both of interest.

The first is on the late Archean redox state of the oceans:

Donald E. Canfield, Simon W. Poulton, Andrew H. Knoll, Guy M. Narbonne, Gerry Ross, Tatiana Goldberg, and Harald Strauss
2008 "Ferruginous Conditions Dominated Later Neoproterozoic Deep-Water Chemistry" Science 15 August 2008: 949-952.

"Low sulfur input caused the deeper ocean to become anoxic and rich in ferrous iron 750 million years ago, a reversal from the more oxidizing conditions of the previous 1 billion years."

Now this might not seem related to OOL research, but it is an intersting set of observations about the stratification of the oceans which will lead to better measurement of the deep ocean redox and sulfur/iron economies. This is of great significance to OOL.

The other article is;

T. R. Kulp, S. E. Hoeft, M. Asao, M. T. Madigan, J. T. Hollibaugh, J. C. Fisher, J. F. Stolz, C. W. Culbertson, L. G. Miller, and R. S. Oremland
2008 "Arsenic(III) Fuels Anoxygenic Photosynthesis in Hot Spring Biofilms from Mono Lake, California" Science 15 August 2008: 967-970.

"A primitive form of photosynthesis in which arsenic is the electron donor occurs in purple bacteria in a California lake, perhaps a relic of early life forms."

This is of more direct OOL interest, suggesting a new anoxic metabolism pathway.

Monday, August 18, 2008


There was a mindbreakingly bad news piece KARA FINNSTROM, working (apparently) for CNN, Los Angeles that was broadcast today by WDEF 12 of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This news splat was vaguely about the recent Federal Court decision in favor of the University of California. The UC and several individual professors were being sued by the ASSOCIATION OF CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS INTERNATIONAL, Calvary Chapel Christian School, and five Calvary student. Their goal was to force the University to grant credit for four courses offered by Calvary, and a biology course taught by Calvary Baptist School.

The WDEF story opened, “Can a private religious high school stress too much religion? A federal judge says yes, at least for students hoping to get into campuses like UCLA.”

Below is a review of the case drawn from the Court’s Decision. All quotations are from NO. CV 05-06242 SJO (MANx) “ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' "MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON PLAINTIFFS' AS-APPLIED CLAIMS" [Docket No. 172]. I encourage all interested parties to read an excellent piece of judicial writing. I take each rejected course in the order found there.

English, Course title: “Christianity and Morality in American Literature” This class was rejected by the University for several reasons- none of which were because it has a Christian bias. The objections included that the textbook, published by A Beka titled “Classics for Christians,” did not cover important writer’s key works, insisted on exclusive interpretations dictated by the textbook, and failed to teach critical reading skills. Further, the text is merely an "anthology of excerpts," which UC does not approve, no matter the content of the excerpts. From the UC Guidelines, "College-preparatory courses are expected to require students to read full-length works."

History, Course title: “Christianity's Influence on America” Text: Bob Jones University ("BJU") titled “United States History for Christian Schools.”

Professor James Given initially rejected this course because it failed to “teach critical thinking and modern historical analytic methods.” He wrote that the textbook, titled “United States History for Christian Schools” published by Bob Jones University ("BJU"), “… instructs that the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events, attributes historical events to divine providence rather than analyzing human action, evaluates historical figures and their contributions based on their religious motivations or lack thereof and contains inadequate treatment of several major ethnic groups, women, and non-Christian religious groups.” University expert witness Professor Gary Nash found that “the text failed to encourage "historical thinking skills and analytical thinking" and failed to cover "major topics, themes, and components of United States history."

Calvary replied that an secondary textbook, “Pilgrims in Their Own Land: 500 Years of Religion in America,” was secular and taught all the materials sought by the University. However, they provided no evidence beyond mere assertion. The History expert employed for the trial by Calvary and the ACSI, Professor Paul Vitz, did “ … not refute Professor Given's and Professor Nash's conclusions that the text fails to teach historical analytic methods. Professor Vitz also does not opine that Defendants unreasonably rejected the course.”

Government, Course title: “Special Providence: Christianity and the American Republic” Textbook: “American Government for Christian Schools” BJU

University Government expert, Professor Mark Petracca concluded that the BJU Government text used “… as the principal text in a United States
Government course will not provide adequate preparation for study at UC." Professor Petracca wrote that this textbook made, “… many factual and empirical assertions that are not generally accepted among political scientists [or] historians and that are nevertheless not substantiated within the text by evidence." Notice that he is not claiming that a book cannot make these assertions, but when they are contradicted by general scholarship they must be supported by evidence.

World Religions (offered for History and elective credit): The proposed textbook, “World Religions” by Dan Halverson is not found on any major catalogs nor is the author known to have any scholarly publications in religion. Calvary failed to respond to the University’s request for correct publication information. Also, Calvary failed to respond to specific deficiencies in their course description. Nor did Calvary respond to the question of how the course treats the study of religion from the standpoint of scholarly inquiry. Professor Sharf, Director of Religious Studies at the University of California, Berkeley found that these problems were reasonable grounds to reject the course. The religion expert retained by Calvary and ACSI, Professor Daniel Guevara, offered no opinion specific to this course, or to the objections raised by the University.


The course challenged was not offered by Calvary Chapel Christian School, but rather was taught by Calvary Baptist School. The textbook used was titled Biology: God's LivingCreation (A Beka).

In the initial review, UC Biology Professor Barbara Sawrey found that this textbook, “characterized religious doctrine as scientific evidence, included scientific inaccuracies, failed to encourage critical thinking, and took an "overall un-scientific approach to the subject matter." She wrote that, "judgment was based not on the fact that the textbooks contained religious references and viewpoints, but on [her] conclusion that [the texts] would not adequately teach
students the scientific principles, methods, and knowledge necessary for them to successfully study those subjects at UC." In fact, a number of private Christian schools have also rejected the A Beka book, and an alternate published by BJU because they fail to adequately prepare students to study biology beyond the high school level, and particularly failed to present evolutionary biology in a competent manner.

These concerns are also addressed in the University of California Position Statement on Science Courses: “The texts in question are primarily religious texts; science is secondary. . . . Courses that utilize these texts teach students that their conclusions must conform to the Bible, and that scientific material and methods are secondary. Students who [are] taught to discount the scientific process and the scientific conclusions validated by a wealth of scientific research are not being provided with an understanding of scientific principles expected by the UC faculty.”

Expert witness Professor Donald Kennedy wrote for the University that, “[b]y teaching students to reject scientific evidence and methodology whenever they might be inconsistent with the Bible . . . both texts fail to encourage critical thinking and the skills required for careful scientific analysis." Similarly, University Professor Francisco Ayala found that the texts "reject the methodology generally accepted in science, which relies on observation and experimentation and on the formulation of laws and theories that need to be tested rather than accepted on the basis of the Bible or any other authority."

The plaintiffs, Calvary and ACSI, hired Professor Michael Behe to serve as their Biology expert. Professor Behe is best know for his promotion of creationism in the form of “intelligent design.” He submitted to the Court that the BJU textbook he reviewed did “mention” the standard scientific topics for a biology course. However, it was notable that he did not address “how much detail or depth" the texts gave to this standard content.”

The court wrote, “Therefore, Professor Behe fails to refute one of Professor Kennedy's primary concerns that the nature of science, the theory of evolution, and critical thinking are not taught adequately.

Accordingly, there is no genuine issue of material fact as to this issue. Defendants had a rational basis for rejecting Calvary Baptist's proposed Biology course.”

This latter phrase is a bit of formal legalese and found throughout the Court’s Decision, “Accordingly, there is no genuine issue of material fact as to this issue. Defendants had a rational basis for rejecting Calvary's proposed _____ course.”

In this case it is not merely pro forma, but obviously appropriate and true.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Other views on Baugh's fake foot

I linked below to some of Baugh's supporters.

Glen J. Kuban has an excellent website devoted to the dinos and humans together nonsense. He has a new section on the latest Paluxy fraud, Here. Be sure to check out the rest of his site.

Playing footsy with the truth

I wish everyone would go and carefully read About High-resolution X-ray CT, hosted by The High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility at The University of Texas at Austin (UTCT). In particular, read and look at the photos in the section titled, Beam Hardening.

Now, having done this, look at the photos in the PDF provided by Baugh supporter David Lines. It should be obvious that the "density changes" of this hoax are all due to beam hardening and natural layering of the slab. You should note that every CT slice has a shadow "density" that outlines the entire slab, even the open areas. This alone demonstrates that there is a severe problem with beam hardening.

If you have downloaded this image from David Lines you will see the natural layering of the slab, and that this was not disturbed by the tons of pressure supposedly applied by the "dinosaur" or the supposedly "human" foot prints. In fact, these multiple layers run unaltered through both "foot prints." If you look at the David Lines photo he labled, "Toe Detail" you will see that the carving of the "human toes" has penetrated through the top layer of the slab and partially into the second. This is obvious in the second, third and fifth "toes." These layers were equally undisturbed or mixed together by the so-called dinosaur. This is impossible if these were foot prints. There is a lower layer that is penetrated by the "ball" of the phony human print. This is also exposed in the phony dinosaur print. There is no distortion, or mixing. This is impossible if these were foot prints.

I pointed out yesterday that the areas I had thought to be acid bubbles were not. Instead, these superior photos make it obvious that the acid bubbling is obvious all over the "foot prints" but particularly in the ball of the fake human print. That entire area is covered in pocked marks typical of applied "patina."

The "toe detail" photo is also interesting becasue you can see the bottom of the "big toe." It has been commented on that the "big toe" seems to be oddly deep. In these new photos one can see that there is still some sort of broken, mixed matrix. I suspect that this is part of a natural feature in the slab, perhaps a root mold. You should also note that this is one of the only three places where the natural layering of the slab appears altered. I am becoming inclined to the possibility that the "human" print is a partial, heavily eroded dino track.

My most charitable interpretation is that this is a "pious fraud." That is to say, some natural depression, or even a partial dinosuar print, was "cleaned up" into what the manufacturers wanted. Actually though, I think this is merely a hoax perpetrated on Baugh. It is his promotion of this that is eqaully at fault.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paleontologist? Dr. Jones?

Just for a chuckle I used Google on "Floyd Nolen Jones" +dinosaur, and my name in place of his.

I got more hits than Jones. Plus, most of his were merely because his name appeared in a bibliography for one of his bible tracts, with someone else's with "dinosaur" in their entry. Mine were mostly related to articles I have written about dinosaurs and creationism.

Just to be clear here, I am not a paleontologist- I am an archaeologist. Jones is not a paleontologist and he should not misrepresent himself that way. Jones is not a paleontologist and competent newspapers would not say that he was.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Baugh's Fake Foot, Round 2

I was planning to drop my attention from this hoax. Anyone capable of seeing the plain evidence has done so.

However, we are entering round two with the publication this morning of a new news article in the Mineral Wells Index.

Aug. 12, 2008

CT scans of empty space

David May of the Mineral Wells Index wrote in a recent article that the latest creationist hoax was authenticated by a medical CAT scan. Charles Myers, a radiologist looked at the images taken of the rock and stated that he thought the marks could have been produced by footsteps. Dr. Myers probably has little experience with the CT scanning of empty voids surrounded by hard material, unless he has scanned the heads of small town journalists. The result this produces is a bright outline along the edge of the void. This is called “beam hardening,” and described in considerable detail by an article hosted by The High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility at The University of Texas at Austin (UTCT).

(Based on Ketcham, R.A. and Carlson, W.D., 2001. Acquisition, optimization and interpretation of X-ray computed tomographic imagery: Applications to the geosciences. Computers and Geosciences, 27, 381-400.)

The most commonly encountered artifact in CT scanning is beam hardening, which causes the edges of an object to appear brighter than the center, even if the material is the same throughout (Fig. 5a). The artifact derives its name from its underlying cause: the increase in mean X-ray energy, or "hardening" of the X-ray beam as it passes through the scanned object. Because lower-energy X-rays are attenuated more readily than higher-energy X-rays, a polychromatic beam passing through an object preferentially loses the lower-energy parts of its spectrum. The end result is a beam that, though diminished in overall intensity, has a higher average energy than the incident beam (Fig. 2). This also means that, as the beam passes through an object, the effective attenuation coefficient of any material diminishes, thus making short ray paths proportionally more attenuating than long ray paths. In X-ray CT images of sufficiently attenuating material, this process generally manifests itself as an artificial darkening at the center of long ray paths, and a corresponding brightening near the edges. In objects with roughly circular cross sections this process can cause the edge to appear brighter than the interior, but in irregular objects it is commonly difficult to differentiate between beam hardening artifacts and actual material variations.

Beam hardening can be a pernicious artifact because it changes the CT value of a material (or void) depending upon its location in an image. Thus, the attempt to utilize a single CT number range to identify and quantify the extent of a particular material can become problematic. One measure that is sometimes taken is to remove the outer edges of the image and analyze only the center. Although this technique removes the worst part of the problem, the artifact is continuous and thus even subsets of the image are affected. Furthermore, if the cross-sectional area of the object changes from slice to slice, the extent of the beam-hardening artifact also changes, making such a strategy prone to error.

The bright areas in the published medical CT scan of Baugh’s rock which appear around the “foot prints” and between the “toes” are obviously the result of beam hardening, and not compression. Looking at the central portion of the photo from the Mineral Wells Index July 29th article, we can plainly see that there was in fact no compression at all. In the blowup section below, I have outlined the multiple sedimentary layers that are easily visible. Had this object really shown a dinosaur’s footprint, or a human’s these layers would have been erased. Instead they obviously extend across the slab, and are even continuous from the “dinosaur” to the “human” marks. There is only one possible way that this could have happened, and that is by carving out the rock. It could not possibly ever have happened by compression.

These sediment layers are also obviously of different density which is why they appear in the photo as discrete lines. This variation in density is well known to further add to X-ray beam hardening. This has created the second misleading CT image published by the Mineral Wells Index.

Fake footprints, fake paleontologist?

David May in his Aug. 11th newspaper story quotes from a purported paleontologist, Floyd Nolen Jones. The Rev. Jones has doctoral degrees in theology and education, and unlike Carl Baugh’s multiple “doctorates” Jones attended accredited graduate schools. Dr. Jones also claims work experience in petroleum geology. It is this later work that justifies his identification as a paleontologist.

However, is it reasonable to still call Rev. Jones a paleontologist? Over 34 years ago after “resigning from his scientific vocation,” (Jones biography online at http://www.floydjones.org ) Jones devoted the rest of his life to the young earth creationism he still promotes. His 1993 dissertation was titled, “Chronology of the Old Testament: A Return to the Basics.” He should have subtitled it, “A return to the 1600s.” He has also written that the King James Bible is the only translation that is the Word of God, the others are all corrupted by Satan himself. Oh dear!

For over 34 years, Jones has not published a single article on paleontology. In fact, a search of available data bases and journals fails to return a single example of Jones ever publishing anything related to paleontology. Jones probably had taken some college courses on paleo, but to claim to actually be a paleontologist demands an active participation and contribution to paleontological study. There is no evidence that Jones has ever done this. The oil industry certainly does hire people in paleontology, particularly micropaleontology. This is the study of things like pollen, and tiny microscopic critters. There is no justification for Jones to call himself a paleontologist, and an ordinary sort of journalist knows these days how to use Google.

And actually folks, it doesn’t even need an expert to look at the photos and see these “footprints” are a hoax. Go out in the yard with the water hose. Take of your shoes. Do your own footprints. Now look again at those photos of Baugh's Rock.

But wait, there is more

David May is obviously pleased with his diminishment of our Nation’s collective intelligence. He wrote on Aug. 11th, “The Mineral Wells Index to date is the only news agency that has published information pertaining to the reported discovery…”

Not too surprisingly, this too was incorrect. There was a much more revealing article written by Bud Kennedy, of the Star-Telegram. Kennedy talked with Zana Douglas, a descendent of the family that discovered the famous Glen Rose dinosaur tracks nearly a century ago. She also described how her grandfather carved fake dinosaur tracks and even added human “footprints” to make them more interesting. She told Kennedy,

"My dad [Weldon Eakin] and my grandfather decided one day — I don’t know if it was to make money, or what — to start carving man tracks alongside the dinosaur tracks," said Douglas, 67 and now living near Houston.

They poured acid to make the fossils look like aged limestone, she said. They showed one "all over town" until they heard that a researcher from the Smithsonian Institution wanted to see the track.

"That worried my grandfather because he didn’t want anybody ever passing it off as real," she said. "So he and Daddy took it out and buried it."

Personally, her mentioning using acid to fake the aged appearance, which would also hide tool marks, was the most convincing information in Zana Douglas’s testimony since I had pointed out last week that this latest hoax had been treated with an acid wash. Her Granddaddy Adams was more honest it seems than today’s crop of footprint sculptors in Glen Rose.

August 13, 2008

I thought I might add a variation on the photo which shows more clearly that there was no distortion of the rock's natural stratification when these prints were made. The blue and red lines each trace a separate layer, and the green lines are probably the same. There are aditional layers as I showed the other day in the photo above.

Someone with better photo editing skill than I have might overlay the newly released CT scan of the "toes."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

On the water

I was on the ocean yesterday, and had some Delicious results.

10 lb Dorado

This was a 10 lb male dorado.

25 lb Albacor Tuna

This was a 25 lb male Albacore Tuna. (The dog's name is Yoggie).

The fishing was slow over all. I only lost one fish (a larger albacore) when my reel momentarily locked up. We caught 11 albacore, 2 Yellowfin Tuna, 2 Yellowtail jack, and 41 dorado for 32 people fishing. Mine was the largest dorado, with the majority barely over 3 lbs. (I had a several of those but released them). The per pound cost of the meat was still well above market, 15 lbs of trimed meat for ~$300. The local fish market charges $10.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Carl Baugh's latest Fake

Carl Baugh of Glen Rose Texas is the proprietor of the Creation Evidence Museum. Baugh is best known for his unaccredited degrees and his many fraudulent evidences that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. His latest is the Alvis Delk Cretaceous Footprint.

Oh be still my fluttering heart.

From the famous scientific journal, the Mineral Wells Index, of Mineral Wells Texas we learned that the source of the fossil was, “Amateur archeologist and Stephenville, Texas, resident Alvis Delk, 72, shows a lime cast replica of the limestone rock he found in July 2000 near Glen Rose, Texas. Initially he kept the 140-pound because it contained a dinosaur footprint. Two months ago, he was brushing the stone and discovered a human footprint in the rock – partially beneath the dinosaur print. The actual stone is now in the possession of the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas.”

Baugh wrote on his website that, “The fossil was transported to a professional laboratory where 800 X-rays were performed in a CT Scan procedure. Laboratory technicians verified compression and distribution features clearly seen in both prints, human and dinosaur. This removes any possibility that the prints were carved or altered. “

Baugh told the Mineral Wells Index that, “The compression lines, the density features, do show, and there is no way to fake that,” he said. “It is possible to carve a track in limestone. But there is no way to compress the material in the rock under the track. That is absolutely impossible. That’s why the CAT scans are so important.”

First of all, a medical CAT scan uses a lower energy beam than could be useful on a sandy limestone. That is why real paleontologists use industrial facilities. The University of Houston (added 8/15/08, this was inccorect- I was thinking of The University of Texas, Austin) has a laboratory that has many years of experience with just this type of analysis. This points to the next problem; a medical facility is not staffed by paleontologists or geophysicists. Baugh has no accredited degrees either. He wouldn't know "compression lines" from his own butt crack. However, you don't even need more than the photograph from the Mineral Wells Index, which was much higher resolution than from Baugh's website, to see that this is object is a fake.

I downloaded the photo at full resolution. If you closely examine the photo, you will easily see that there are sandy lenses in the rock; four are visible in the exposed rock between the "toes" of the dinosaur print. Now look at the "human print," particularly the area of the little toe. You will see (with a little magnification) that the top most layer is penetrated by the "toe" and not compressed, and the second layer is partially exposed. The same lens is exposed across the base of the four distal toes. This could not have happend unless the "toes" had been carved out of the rock.

Returning to the "dinosuar" print, there is no compression folding of the sandy layers between the toes which is interesting. First, there must have been if this were a legitimate track. However, there appears to me to be evidence of removal of material from between the central and the medial "toe" as well as along the top edge of the "track."

There also appears to be a patina coating the bottom of the basin. This has two interesting features. First, it is pealing and cracking. This is not appropriate to a real patina. Second, the patina appears in parts of the basin and not others, nor does it appear consistantly in the "human toe prints."

(If this were a video game walkthrough, I would place a big Warning: Cheat Follows ).

Here is how to fake a patina that will look like this fake fossil: Brush the surface with vinegar, and then sprinkle with baking powder followed by baking soda, and let dry. Repeat until you are happy with the results. This is not the only way, or even the best way. But it is simple, and will fool the average fool. Especially easy if they want to be fooled.

So, having spent a little bit more time on the photo of this fake, I feel that I understand a bit more about how it was produced. A legitimate dinosaur track was found and removed. Incompetent, unprofessional "Cleaning" damaged it. An parital overprint, or simple erosion depression was "improved" by adding "toes." The faked surfaces were smothed over with a simple kitchen concoction to make a "patina." Artifact fabricators next bury the fake for a year or two, or they smear it with fertilizer and leave it exposed. This helps weather the object and obscure tool marks.

Added later:

The bubble pops.

If you used the cheap kitchen patina method I mentioned above, there is the chance that the acid will create a gas bubble in a depression. This lifts the fake patina and is visable as little bumps, or they form pits.

I just enlarged the photo again, focused on the center toe of the "dinosaur." There are two obvious pits of broken bubbles created by a recently applied acid wash seen on the distal portion of the "track." Looking further, there is one more near the distal end of the medial toe.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This from the Smithsonian?

The Smithsonian has a "blog" called "The Gist." A recent item about the dinosaur "meat" controversy written by Hugh Powell has the following two sentences,

"They cracked the bone in half to make it fit, and Schweitzer noticed a goopy residue on the 65-million-year-old insides of the bone (see the Smithsonian story). Then this April, Schweitzer and her colleagues isolated a protein called collagen from the sample, analyzed it, and found striking similarities to the collagen of modern birds."

I am very disappointed in this misrepresentation of Schweitzer's work. There are at least five errors of fact;

The femur, MOR-1125, was broken due to weight issues not size, Schweitzer was not at the site, and the organic residue was not "goopy" or even visible to the naked eye. The article published in Science last April, Organ et al, had not "isolated a protein called collagen." Rather, they used BLAST searches to attempt a phylogenetic tree for prior data. These earlier data were still not the "protein called collagen." Rather, Asara et al (2007) analyzed seven small peptide fragments they attributed to collagen. They may or may not have been correct in that attribution. The fragments, even if from collagen, are from very highly conserved regions of that molecule.

"Protein Sequences from Mastodon and Tyrannosaurus Rex Revealed by Mass Spectrometry" (John M. Asara, Mary H. Schweitzer, Lisa M. Freimark, Matthew Phillips, Lewis C. Cantley, Science 13 April 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5822, pp. 280 - 285

"Molecular Phylogenetics of Mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex" (Chris L. Organ, Mary H. Schweitzer, Wenxia Zheng, Lisa M. Freimark, Lewis C. Cantley, and John M. Asara, Science 25 April 2008 320: 499)