Man — A Contemporary of the Dinosaurs?
Recently, creationists have been making much of reports out of the Soviet Union concerning coexisting footprints of humans and dinosaurs. Our intent is to translate and publish these reports as we locate them, letting the original writers speak for themselves. This, we hope, will aid in keeping rumors within manageable limits.
Only one step separated me from a terrace on the slope of Mount Kugitang-tau in southeast Turkmenia. I took the step and . . . entered a period of the Mesozoic, which is separated from today by a gap of almost 150 million years.
Right from my feet ran a trail of dinosaur footprints. It was as though these fossil giants had passed by quite recently, leaving behind deep prints of their gigantic feetone and a half meters apart. As I was later told by the paleontologists, with this distance between the footprints, the height of the animals that left them must be eight to twelve meters.
All of a sudden we saw some not very distinct, though distinguishable, footprints beside a huge three-toed footprint of a dinosaur. They were similar to those of humans. At least they appeared so to anyone who saw them for the first time. I am not a scientist, yet I dared propose a hypothesis: "Who knows, could our ancient ancestor have been a contemporary of the dinosaur?"
"In the future science may give a positive answer to this question," said Professor Kurban Amanniazov, the leader of the expedition, a correspondent of the Academy of Science of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, and the director of the Geologic Institute of the Turkmen Academy of Science. "If it could be proved that these are really footprints of an anthropoid being, it would bring about a revolution in anthropology. The human race would become thirty times older, and its history would be extended to 150 million years."
"But there is no doubt about the dinosaur footprints?" I asked.
"No. This case is quite clear, although the discovery of dinosaur footprints is rare. The Turkmen discovery is unique in that the footprints were found in a large areathe dinosaur path is altogether ten kilometers long.
"This was probably the path along which the dinosaurs went to a watering place, in pairs or sometimes with their young (we can see smaller footprints beside the huge ones). Several expeditions working on Mount Kugitang-tau found altogether twenty-seven hundred prints, both of feet and conical dinosaur tails.
"In no other place on earth has such a large number been recorded. The international importance of this finding is increased by the fact that it belongs to the upper Jurassic geologic period. Only a few footprints from this period have been described so far. They have been found only in Portugal."
"How does the discovery contribute to science?" I asked.
"It changes our picture of the geological past of this region. The experts have assumed that in the Mesozoic there was a deep sea from which the mountains later arose. The dinosaur prints indicate that there was also dry land in this region. This forces us to take into account different conditions under which any utilizable minerals were formed and distributed, and it can help in predicting their location.
"It is important to preserve this rare and valuable paleontological find and to investigate it carefully from all sides. The Council of Ministers of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic have been presented with a proposal to establish a nature preserve or a national park in this mountainous region, especially since the precious Karljuk karst cave was found here."
The mountainous region of Kugitang-tau in the southeast of Turkmenia still holds many secrets concerning the mysterious past of our planet.