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Episode Notes for
Fins & Fossil Footprints

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Glenn Kuban

Glen Kuban has done extensive research on two cases important to monster enthusiasts. His article explaining the true nature of the “mysterious” carcass netted by the Japanese fishing vessel Zuiyo-maru and his decades long investigation into the alleged “giant humanoid tracks” in the Paluxy fossil bed in Texas both highlight the importance of a thorough investigation before assuming the remarkable is true. In the case of the Zuiyo-Maru, the carcass bore a preliminary similarity to plesiosaur remains — an animal which should have been extinct for millions of years. And in the case of the Paluxy tracks, the appearance of hominid tracks fossilized along-side dinosaur tracks would have given young-earth creationists a potential falsification for the theory of evolution. Glen examined that case and his work revealed that the tracks were not those of a prehistoric giant people — but rather weathered dinosaur tracks led to an interesting confrontation with the young-earth creationists.

In this episode, we also briefly discuss a new effort to find the elusive “Mongolian Death Worm.” While we do joke about the MDW during the episode, if the expedition does come up with evidence for a real animal like the one described in the legend (a poison and lightning spewing killer lurking in the desert) we will be delighted to talk about it on a future episode of MonsterTalk.

In this episode

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Plesiosaur or shark?

  • Glen gives an overview of how he got involved in cryptozoology and the struggle with young-earth creationists.
  • Scientists quickly determined carcass found by Zuiyo-maru was a heavily rotted Basking Shark.
  • Basking Sharks often rot down to a “pseudo-plesiosaur” appearance.
  • Even after the creature was identified as a Basking Shark many people continued to report it as a plesiosaur or as ongoing mystery.
  • Finding a living plesiosaur would not falsify the current theory of evolution.
  • Glen thinks proof of Bigfoot would pose bigger problems for creationists than a living dinosaur might.
  • Glen gives an overview of the Paluxy tracks — a set of fossil tracks that some believed showed giant humanoid footprints next to dinosaur tracks.
  • He explains how dinosaur foot prints are fossilized.
  • A brief tangent about Bionic Bigfoot ensues.
  • You can not tell the weight of a dinosaur by the depth of its tracks.
  • You can estimate the weight of a dinosaur and its speed by the size of its bones.
  • There are thousands of dinosaur tracks fossilized as well as nesting sites, through multiple layers of sediment — which is strong evidence that these sites were not fosilized in a single great flood event.
  • Dinosaur tracks are actually much more common than dinosaur bones.
  • There is no set time for how long it takes for a fossil to form
  • Any organic matter preserved for over 10,000 is considered to be a fossil.
  • A brief overview of some of the massive evidence that Earth is much older than 10,000 years old.

Coincidentally, blogger Phil Plait commented on the tie between creationists, plesiosaurs and Nessie as I was editing this for posting.

Episode Transcript

Read a complete transcript of this episode

The views expressed on this program are not necessarily the views of the Skeptics Society or Skeptic magazine.

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