The several-thousand prints at the Lark Quarry dinosaur track-ways, in Queensland, Australia, have long been interpreted as being the result of the only known dinosaur stampede. They were caused, it was believed, by a large hungry theropod spooking and scattering a group of smaller dinosaurs. A new paper – Re-evaluation of the Lark Quarry dinosaur tracksite (late Albian–Cenomanian Winton Formation, central-western Queensland, Australia): no longer a stampede? (pdf, SI) – argues that the site does not represent a stampede at all, but dinosaurs swimming with the current as part of a migration. Somehow, Brian Thomas gets from this research the title “New Dinosaur Tracks Study Suggest Cataclysm.”
Probably the best ‘evidence’ he has for this claim is not tied to the new study, and is stated in his opening paragraph:
Casual observers are not the only ones who puzzle over dinosaur footprint origins. After all, other animal tracks in mud are not fossilized today because erosive processes rapidly erase them. If a rock layer requires thousands of years to solidify, then how were dinosaur tracks recorded in them?
This could well be quite powerful evidence, even – if it were actually true. If anything, it seems that slow processes are best for preserving tracks, not catastrophe. Meanwhile the claim that “animal tracks in mud are not fossilized today” is thrown in without any reference. Anecdotes are vastly inferior to data, but as Brian hasn’t got any of the latter I’ll point out that in my own experience footprints can last at least for some time when they’re in the right place. I will concede, however, that I have never personally sat by one for a million years as it turned to stone just to make sure (that could be quite difficult, as they tend to get buried as part of the process).
The study included estimates of water depth, ranging from 14 to 160 centimeters, or about 6 inches to five feet, based on footprint-derived scale-ups of the dinosaur’s hip heights. The study authors wrote, “The sedimentologic and ichnological observations are consistent with interpretations of the area being a fluvial-dominated floodplain under variable subaqueous conditions.” The word “fluvial” refers to river action. But the sandstone formation may be as large as the entire state of Queensland. Are they suggesting that there was a river as wide as Queensland? A great flood would make more sense.
I’m no geologist – neither is Brian – but it seems that his interpretation doesn’t make sense. The footprints lie in the Winton formation, which is indeed quite large (not nearly as big as the state, mind). But the entire formation will not have been lain down, all at once, in the same way, and at the same time as the dinosaurs were moving. As the wikipedia article says:
The formation is a rock unit that blankets large areas of central-western Queensland. It consists of sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, siltstone and claystone. The sediments that make up these rocks represent the remnants of the river plains that filled the basin left by the Eromanga Sea – an inland sea that covered large parts of Queensland and central Australia at least four times during the Early Cretaceous. Great meandering rivers, forest pools and swamps, creeks, lakes and coastal estuaries, all left behind different types of sediment.
So no, they are not “suggesting that there was a river as wide as Queensland.” A great flood would also probably have eroded the tracks before they could be preserved, but that’s a different matter.
Concluding the ICR article, we have this:
This analysis strikingly confirms the [“]Flood-friendly Briefly Exposed Diluvial Sediments (BEDS) hypothesis.” Creation researcher Mike Oard suggested that the global water level temporarily lulled during the year-long global Flood of Noah’s day. After the waters ceased rising globally, they sloshed across broad, flat landscapes. Then, slowly at first, they began to flow off of the new continents into deeper ocean basins. John Morris extended this concept extended in his recent book The Global Flood.
During that lull, the last hardy, barely surviving creatures were dinosaurs, struggling against currents, predation, starvation, and exhaustion as they tromped in soggy sediments. All the clues at Lark Quarry in Queensland point to a powerful watery cataclysm, consistent with the Flood in general and particularly consistent with the BEDS hypothesis.
The Oard article cited doesn’t seem, at a quick glance, to talk very much about this issue. BEDS and the rest appears to be Morris’ invention, and I’m yet to see a review of that book. Meanwhile, Thomas’ claims of striking confirmation and that “all the clues…point to a powerful watery cataclysm” seems quite delusional, even.