Review by Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
On 30 January 2006 Answers in Genesis daily feature reported on a team of scientists from England, who discovered 269 footprints in volcanic ash in Mexico.1 The scientists conclude that 60% of the footprints were identified as human, and 36 percent of these were children. Although the article discusses the difficulties of these footprints from an evolutionary point of view, the young earth author provides no alternative from a young earth perspective.
Evolutionists are said to be unhappy with these footprints, becuase they were dated via OSL at about 40,000 years old. Current thought is that the first humans in North America was the "Clovis" people, around 12,000 years ago. Obviously, this would move back human habitation of the Americas by 28,000 years.
Other evolutionists apparently redated the volcanic ash using the 40Ar/39Ar method, and obtained a date of about 1.3 million years. The people behind this new date claim that the markings are not hominid...they are just markings from some undetermined source.
Concerning these two opposing viewpoints, Answers in Genesis claims that these evolutionists are in a dating war. The team suggesting the 40,000 year date is currently dating the material again, using various methods, and we eagerly await the outcome of this dating.
There is one previous data point that Menton refers to. He says this is similar to the debate between footprints in Tanzania, also in volcanic ash, which were dated at 3.5 million years old. These were declared to be made by an ape-like creature, and not a hominid.
Menton surprisingly sums up this article like this..."Pity the evolutionists: they can’t force ape feet into the Laetoli footprints and they can’t pull human feet out of the Mexican foot prints." This final statement seems to indicate that he does not believe the Mexican prints are human. However, he provides nothing to counter the argument that they are human! If this is true, he is relying solely on the data from Renne, who relied solely on the redating to 1.3 million years, and the assumption that this was too old to be human footprints. Earlier, he said the footprints are "No surprise for biblical creationists so far." Does he or does he not believe these are human footprints?
One is left wondering exactly what Answers in Genesis believes. The whole point of their article is that evolutionists cannot agree on these footprints, and apparently neither can Answers in Genesis.
Although the evolutionists involved are undecided, neither position (40,000 years, or 1.3 million years) presents an insurmountable obstacle for old earth creationists. If humans were in the Americas 40,000 years ago, that is no problem. We have no other evidence of their presence, but that does not mean that they were not here. These were probably pre-Adamic hominids.
If the 1.3 million year date is correct, even having pre-Adamic hominids in the Americas at this early date is not a problem. However, I suspect this date is in error. Other uses of the 40Ar/39Ar method for young volcanic material shows that errant dates can be obtained from volcanic materials. The original researchers who go by the 40,000 year date also used this method, but it gave unreliable results. Therefore, the 1.3 million year old date must be examined closely to see if the method did indeed yield reliable results. Until proven otherwise, the 40,000 date is the most reliable.
1 Mexican Markings and Chronological Chaos, by David Menton, published at answersingenesis.org/docs2006/0130mexican_footprints.asp
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