This article is from
Creation 45(1):52–53, January 2023

Browse our latest digital issue Subscribe

The dinosaur ‘Lone Ranger trackway’

Photos by Paul Baker | IDL Friends of Dinosaur Valley State ParkDino-trackway

by Philip Robinson

A recent drought in Texas, USA, has revealed a range of beautifully preserved dinosaur footprints in Dinosaur Valley State Park. Located in the bed of the Paluxy River,1 the trace fossils are usually covered by water, and filled with silt and sediment. As the water levels fell in August 2022, they became exposed. A team of volunteers helped to clean them out so they could be better examined, and to specifically monitor how they have changed over time.

Of the 140 footprints on the 30 m- (100 ft-) long trackway, 60 became accessible due to the drought. The tracks are referred to as the ‘Lone Ranger trackway’ as they are believed to have been made by the same individual dinosaur. Park officials stated that, “it may be the longest known trail made by a single dinosaur in North America.”2 This particular ‘Lone Ranger’ is thought to be an Acrocanthosaurus, a large bipedal carnivorous dinosaur with three claws on each foot. It could grow to over 10½ metres (35 ft), weighing over 4 tonnes. Trackways by several other dinosaur types are also preserved in limestone in the park, such as Sauroposeidon, a huge sauropod.

How were the dinosaur tracks made?

Dinosaur tracks were first discovered in the Paluxy River bed in 1908 when a layer of rock that had covered them was removed by a flood.3 Since that time, many more have been identified. A number of park officials have tried to explain their origin. Assistant Superintendent at the park, Asa Vermeulen, said the tracks were made on some kind of a beach, “But it was muddy, it wasn’t sandy. And so we had the perfect conditions and consistency of mud, that when they stepped in it, it left just crisp, perfect tracks in most cases.”2 Park spokesperson Stephanie Garcia also stated, “The tracks were made along an ancient, inland sea during the Cretaceous period. The dinosaurs stepped in thick mud that held their track shapes well with a lot of detail.”4 These comments by officials raise two points worth considering.

The first is the consistency of the mud that the dinosaur stepped in to leave such a wonderful trackway. It had to be wet and soft enough to leave an impression, but not too soft, otherwise the footprints would not have been so well-defined.

The second point to consider from the park officials’ comments concerns location. If the footprints were made on the beach of an inland sea, then how were they preserved? Imagine taking a dog for a walk on a beach. Ignoring your calls, the dog runs off out of sight to chase something. Fortunately, its footprints remain in the not-too-wet, not-too-dry muddy beach for you to follow. However, if you chose to wait till the next day to follow the prints, the trackway would be long gone, eroded by the tide.

Photos by Paul Baker | IDL Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Parklone-ranger

Preserving dinosaur tracks

So how do trackways get preserved? No slow-and-gradual process can account for magnificently preserved footprints such as those belonging to the ‘Lone Ranger trackway’. They need to be buried quickly under another layer of sediment to prevent their erosion and loss.

Photos by Paul Baker | IDL Friends of Dinosaur Valley State ParkDino-foot-print

If the trackway had been left on a normal muddy beach this would not have occurred. The tracks would have disappeared following the next tide (or next rain). Instead, the Bible presents a much better scenario that provides the suitable conditions for preservation. During the Noahic Flood, some 4,500 years ago, as described in Genesis 7, the floodwaters tore up the pre-Flood world, and laid down huge layers of new sediment. Tectonic activity would have caused water levels relative to the land to fluctuate, leading to areas of freshly laid sediment layers being exposed for brief periods.

During this time such creatures as Acrocanthosaurus or Sauroposeidon, coming from higher ground or able to survive by swimming till then, would have been able to alight and walk on these areas. As the water level rose again, carrying more muddy sediments, the footprints they left behind would then soon be covered, preserving the trackways in the layer beneath. This is referred to as the BEDS (Briefly Exposed Diluvial Sediments) model.5 The animals that made them would have later perished as the floodwaters ultimately covered the entire face of the earth.

This also explains the widespread observation that footprints of dinosaurs—and other creatures—are found in much lower strata than the animals that made them. According to evolutionary ‘dating’ methods, the footprint layer is millions of years older than the creature layer. But no creature had a lifespan of millions of years! Rather, there must have been very little time between laying the footprints and burying the creature.6

The Bible gives a worldview enabling us to understand the physical world around us. Starting with the Bible’s historical account of the Noahic Flood provides straightforward, solid answers to such fossilization processes.

Posted on homepage: 10 June 2024

References and notes

  1. There have been claims that alongside dinosaur prints at the Paluxy River are human footprints. However these are likely eroded dino prints. So CMI and other major creationist organizations advise against using the argument ‘Paluxy tracks prove that humans and dinosaurs co-existed’— see creation.com/dontuse#paluxy. But, as this article shows, the dino footprints alone provide great evidence for the Flood. Return to text.
  2. South China Morning Post, youtube.com/watch?v=fT1FIFOBQRA, 24 Aug 2022. Return to text.
  3. Turner, D.S., The dinosaur Darwin missed, texasmonthly.com, Nov 1982. Return to text.
  4. Hawkins, D., Drought is exposing world relics—from dinosaur tracks to Nazi ships, washingtonpost.com, 26 August 2022. Return to text.
  5. Oard, M.J., Dinosaur Challenges and Mysteries: How the Genesis Flood makes sense of dinosaur evidence including tracks, nests, eggs, and scavenged bones, CBP, 2011; creation.com/s/10-2-582. Return to text.
  6. Ross, M., in Is Genesis History? (video documentary), 2017. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Little Dinosaurs on a Big Ark
by Lita Sanders & Joshua Warren
US $15.00
Hard cover
Dragons or Dinosaurs?
by Darek Isaacs
US $17.00
Soft cover