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Cretan footprints stomp on human evolution

Best explained by creation model


Published: 26 October 2017 (GMT+10)
Andrzej Boczarowski, fair useTrachilos-footprint
One of the Cretan footprints that the researchers examined. Click for larger view.

Evolutionists are faced with a controversy1,2 with the discovery of ‘human-like’ fossil footprints allegedly made 5.7 million years ago at Trachilos on the Mediterranean island of Crete.

Why a controversy? Because according to the evolutionary scenario at that time our human ancestors were only found in Africa, had ape-like feet but didn’t walk upright until much later in history; about 3.6 million years ago.3

The footprints were found in 2002 by the study’s lead author, Gerard Gierliński.4 The two tracked surfaces were laser scanned to produce a 3D image and a silicone cast of a print was made as well. Various measurements were also taken. The researchers concluded the tracks were made by a ‘hominin’ and noted that the trackmaker “lacked claws, and was bipedal, plantigrade, pentadactyl and strongly entaxonic”.1

For the layman, that means that the prints were more likely to have been made by human feet than any other creature.

That’s an important distinction because the human foot shows amazing design among its 26 bones, such as the ability to absorb shock, and to flex at the mid foot and push off.5

And as one of the authors said:

“Human feet have a very distinctive shape, different from all other land animals. The combination of a long sole, five short forward-pointing toes without claws, and a hallux (‘big toe’) that is larger than the other toes, is unique.”6

The paper states:

Fossil tracks provide information about the presence of a trackmaker at a moment in space and time. Inferring a trackmaker from a trackway is only possible where there is sufficient and distinct morphological data to make the link between trace and culprit.1

In other words, the observer can deduce with a fair degree of certainty from the imprint left behind what type of creature made it. It would be fair to suggest that most people would immediately conclude the prints were made by a human just by looking at an image of them.

Andrzej Boczarowski, fair useTrachilos-footprint-site
The site that Gerard Gierliński discovered and investigated. Click for larger view.

Despite the conclusion that the tracks are most likely human, the authors go on to warn:

… we report an example of the challenges of making such inferences when the implications run counter to conventional views on human evolution …1

The phrase “the implications run counter to conventional views on human evolution” is a key point to consider because the researchers know any suggestion that challenges accepted ‘fact’ is viewed with suspicion—at the very least.

As one of the study participants observed:

“Whether the human origins research community will accept fossil footprints as conclusive evidence of the presence of hominins in the Miocene of Crete remains to be seen.”2

For biblical creationists there is no surprise about finding fossil footprints—human or otherwise—because we know that all creatures came into being (perfectly formed) at God’s command in Creation Week, just as we are told in Genesis. So, unlike evolutionists, creationists don’t have a problem with accepting that human-like footprints were indeed made by a human.

When we encounter fossils like this, we use the true history of the world that we read about in the Bible to interpret them. This tells us—among many other things—of a cataclysmic worldwide Flood that is the best explanation for the countless fossils found in multiple locations all over our planet.

The discovery of footprints is highly significant because footprints mean the person was alive at the time. They could not have been made by pre-Flood humans after the waters of the global Flood peaked because only the people on the Ark survived. Because the prints in Crete were found in sediments deposited very late in the geological record, they had to have been made after the Flood. The person who made them would have been descended from the eight individuals who survived the deluge on board the Ark.

Thus, because the Bible is the true history of the world, we can know for certain that, like humans, all creatures are descendants of their original parents and only reproduce after their kind (Genesis 1). So whoever left behind those prints on Crete was a descendant of Adam and Eve, and of Noah and his wife; just like all of us.

References and notes

  1. Gierliński, G.D., et al., Possible hominin footprints from the late Miocene (c. 5.7 Ma) of Crete? Proc Geol Assoc, August 2017 | https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pgeola.2017.07.006. The paper’s abstract includes the phrase: The interpretation of these footprints is potentially controversial (emphasis added). Return to text.
  2. MacDonald, C., The mystery trail of 5.7 million year old fossilised footprints in Greece that could shake up our understanding of human evolution, dailymail.co.uk, September 2017. One of the study’s authors, Professor Per Ahlberg, is quoted as saying, “What makes this controversial is the age and location of the prints” (emphasis added). Return to text.
  3. Laetoli footprint trails, humanorigins.si.edu, accessed October 2017. Return to text.
  4. Swidel, J., Footprint find on Crete may push back date humans began to walk upright, news.com.au, September 2017. Return to text.
  5. Oard, M.J., New footprints from Ileret, Kenya, supposed to be from human evolutionary ancestor, March 2009; creation.com/ileret. Return to text.
  6. Fossil footprints challenge established theories of human evolution, sciencedaily.com, August 2017. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

The True Story of the World
by Russell Grigg
US $8.00
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The True Story of Noah's Ark
by Tom Dooley, Bill Looney
US $17.00
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Exploring Geology with Mr Hibb
by Michael Oard, Tara Wolfe, Chris Turbuck
US $16.00
Hard Cover
Exploring Geology with Mr Hibb
by Michael Oard, Tara Wolfe, Chris Turbuck
US $10.00
eReader (.epub)

Readers’ comments

Jason C.
If skeptics won't accept fossil footprints that are clearly human, they're not likely to accept any evidence.
Tas Walker
Indeed. However, fossil footprint evidence can sometimes be open to other interpretations.
Joshua B.
I would note that while all human footprints found come from descendants of Adam and Eve, it does not follow that these footprints are also from descendants of Noah and his wife. They could be from humans who died during the flood.
Tas Walker
See comments on this article by and Lester V. and Joel D.
Matthew B.
Very interesting! Have any similar discoveries been made of even older footprints that appear human, but are explained away as made by animals?
The article on the Ileret, Kenya tracks implied that those were in a later strata (not much later for Creationists, of course).
There are skeletons dated tens of thousands of years old that were probably buried soon after the Flood, about 4,500 years ago. Are there any skeletons (or footprints) that Creationists would accept as probably human that are in Flood-deposited rock?
Tas Walker
Search creation.com for "human fossils" and "human footprints" to find relevant articles.
Lester V.
If these and other such fossil footprints are accepted by creationists as truly human, why are the tracks found in the Paluxy River basin of Glen Rose, Texas, ignored, disregarded, or discounted? They are seldom, if ever, mentioned in creationist literature, apparently being considered questionable. Why?
Tas Walker
See the article Arguments we think creationists should not use. It says in part, "Some prominent creationist promoters of these tracks have long since withdrawn their support. Some of the allegedly human tracks may be artefacts of erosion of dinosaur tracks obscuring the claw marks. There is a need for properly documented research on the tracks ..." You might be the person to do the needed properly documented research.
Steven T.
It's good of you to implicitly acknowledge that evolutionists don't assign dates to fossils just to make them fit the picture of the history of life that they've already concocted. If a date is inconvenient, they admit it anyway.

It's hard to tell from a photograph, but the shape of the footprint looks more apelike than humanlike, despite the humanlike arrangement of the toes.

Any evolutionist will, I think, tell you that, given the imperfections of the fossil record, the earliest fossil showing a feature is not likely to be the earliest occurrence of that feature in the history of life. The date of the oldest fossil is the latest, not the earliest, possible appearance of that sort of creature.

You should distinguish between "evolutionary scenarios" required by evolution itself (e.g. humans can't be older than apes), and "evolutionary scenarios" based on not extrapolating too boldly beyond what fossils are known (e.g. concluding that if primitive hominins weren't found outside Africa, that primitive hominins were probably confined to Africa). Changing the second sort of assumption is a much, much smaller change to "evolutionary scenarios."

It has been thought for the last forty years that the human lineage split off from the chimp lineage some six to seven million years ago, so these footprints don't contradict that part of the "evolutionary scenario," only the part that says that pre-Homo hominins didn't wander outside of Africa.
Tas Walker
You make a good point. The big-picture framework (all living things evolved by natural processes from a single cell over billions of years) is not negotiable and not able to be falsified. However, the details of the evolutionary scenarios change and adapt to fit the evidence.
It's not really accurate to say "evolutionists don't assign dates to fossils just to make them fit the picture of the history of life that they've already concocted." They will fiddle with anything that can be fiddled with in order to come up with a consistent story. The article How dating methods work gives an example of how the date assigned was done so to make the fossils fit the evolutionary story. The article A slow fish in China gives an example of how the story was changed to fit the dates. And the article about Tiktaalik explores the sorts of options evolutionists have to incorporate contrary evidence into their interpretive system. It's a powerful, adaptable system that can accomodate all sorts of evidence as it is presented.
And finally, your comment, "It has been thought for the last forty years ..." gives the impression that the evolutionists are discovering truth. What they are doing is developing a story of human evolution to explain the evidence that has been uncovered. It's like the party game where you are given a sheet of paper with some lines and squiggles on it and you have to make it into a picture. Another way of saying it is, "For the last forty years many evolutionists have held to the story that ..."
Joel D.
As tempting as a post-flood origin of the footprints may be to speculate about, holding to such a position would be difficult if you closely examined the geological context of the site. The fossil footprints sit below a rather substantial layer of messinian salinity crisis deposits. Your own website carries articles (eg https://creation.com/messinian-salinity-crisis) that suggest that the salinity crises was not the result of the drying of the mediterranean basin but rather a process that occurred late during the Flood itself. If Oard and other young-earth authors are correct, these footprints must be older than that event and therefore have occurred during the Flood. This article and the other article cannot both be true.
Tas Walker
You have raised some useful points that suggest more research is needed here.
Ray R.
Thanks for another interesting article! A question I had was why the prints must be understood as post-Flood. Frequently animal track ways are found in the sediment but are sometimes interpreted as having occurred at some stage during the Flood, e.g. escape efforts between episodes of sediment influx. Why wouldn't humans leave the same kind of evidence?
Figure 4 in this article about Wilpena Pound, Australia, provides a preliminary way to assign geological dates to the biblical timeline. The date assigned to the prints, based on the rocks they were found in, was 5.7 million years, which is very late geologically, and that suggests they are post-Flood. Notice the arrows on the figure overlap indicating that there is some give and take on exactly where the various boundaries lie. This article about the Great Artesian Basin sets out in a logical format how to classify the rocks. Humans could make footprints as the floodwaters were rising but after the whole earth was covered in water all people had died. So footprints could not have been made until after the Flood.

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