Conclusions

As already discussed Ed Conrad and Ted Holden's claims about their fossil finds in the Carboniferous rocks near Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, hinge on three key points:
  1. The specimens consist of fossil bone
  2. The fossil bone is not from an expected Carboniferous animal, it is HUMAN bone
  3. The specimens occur in situ in Carboniferous bedrock

The specimens examined here completely fail to substantiate #1, let alone #2, and only Ed and Ted can substantiate #3 (so far, they have not to any reasonable degree of scientific rigor for specimens also meeting #1 and #2). Both the examined specimens are cemented, fine-grained sandstones, possibly concretions or other non-bone structures. There is no trace of bone microstructure. The information presented on Ted's WWW site fails to improve the situation. In the absence of the demonstration of unambiguous bone microstructure with magnified, microscopic images of some sort, their claims will remain completely unsubstantiated. While it is possible that Ed and Ted have found genuine fossil bone in Carboniferous strata (and such a discovery would be consistent with conventional paleontology ), a demonstration to that effect would still leave documentation of #2 and #3 incomplete as currently (20/05/96) presented.

As currently presented, Ed and Ted's claims are, bluntly, without scientific substance. Furthermore, it appears that both Ed and Ted sent me specimens they considered fossil bone, but even simple observation under low power (10x) revealed otherwise. A surface cut with a rock saw and wetted to improve visibility with a hand lens is all that is needed to make it more obvious. The identification of these specimens as variably-cemented sandstone was obvious without any sophisticated equipment or tests. Further tests only made the identification more definitive and easier to document.

It is worth noting that in the weeks this material has been prepared, many people, including some geologists and paleontologists in sci.bio.paleontology and talk.origins have made suggestions that the specimens illustrated on Ted's WWW site represented concretions, probably siderite (FeCO3) concretions, and even went as far as documenting that they are commonly found in the Carboniferous strata of the area. Some of the letters presented by Ed also identify some specimens as "concretions", although he dismisses this possibility. I agree that at least some of the specimens illustrated (e.g., "bone1.jpeg") sure look like concretions (particularly the 3 rounded ones to the upper left), and that interpretation would be completely consistent with the observations of the specimens here, although the possibility some of these specimens could represent other structures (burrows, rhizoliths, plant casts, etc.) can not be entirely excluded, particularly when their presence is likely given the geologic situation. It is possible that Ed's collection represents a variety of structures, but fossil bone is yet to be demonstrated.

[as promised, some slightly inflammatory material was removed from here]

I welcome all e-mail comments on this presentation, but am particularly interested in scientific ones or blatant typographical or HTML errors.


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Andrew MacRae macrae@geo.ucalgary.ca