Written By: Carter Prost
The Acámbaro figures are set of approximately 33,000 clay figurines. Discovered in July of 1944, in Mexico in the city of Acámbaro, Guanajuato, these figures resemble dinosaurs. Some people follow the belief that these figures are real and true evidence that dinosaurs and humans lived together. This is then used to oppose other scientific dating methods. At the moment, there is no reliable evidence that can validate the figures as real artifacts.
What is the context in which it was found?
Waldemar Julsrud, a German merchant, was exploring the base of a mountain in the state of Guanahuato known as el Toro. Here, he found a clay figure of a dinosaur. Julsrud, being an owner of several other artifacts, was quite familiar with most relevent artifacts present at the time. However, Julsrud had never seen or heard of anything like this. Wanting to know if there were more buried around the area, he arranged with one of his employees to dig up the area. All together, Julsrud and his employee discovered around 33,000 different figures. A large majority of these figures were reptiles very closely resembling Dinosaurs. The other figures were human figures. Some of these figures specifically had interaction between the two, such as a human riding on the back of a dinosaur.
What makes this a pseudoarchaeological topic?
The Acámbaro Figures are a highly debated artifact among archaeologists and Young-Earth Creationists. The reason for this is that Young-Earth Creationists try to use the figures as physical evidence that humans and dinosaurs coexisted at one point in time. Due to the 33,000 figures showing dinosaurs and humans together, a number of people believe that this is indeed the case. What makes this such a hot debate is that if this were true the entire history of mankind would have to be rewritten. Mainstream geology states that 65 million years ago dinosaurs became extinct. It is also said that humans appeared less than one million years ago. Those who believe in Young-Earth creationism, believe that humans, dinosaurs, and all other animals were created on the same day roughly 6,000 years ago. Therefore Young-Earth creationist believers are heavily seeking physical proof of this belief. They seek to address science and theological topics relating to the age of the earth to support their cliams . This is the main point of conflict between belief and science. The entire history of mankind lay in the balance on whether or not the figurines were real.
After the discovery of the figurines, Julsrud wrote a book called Enigmas del Pasado where he spoke on specific details on the figures. After reading this book Lowell Harmer, Los Angeles Times writer, wrote an article in March after visiting Julsrud and the sculptures. Harmer was intrigued by the idea of proof behind Young-Earth believers but needed to see it for himself. His article was called "Mexico Finds Give Hint of Lost World: Dinosaur Statues Point to Men Who Lived in Age of Reptiles." Within the article itself, Harmer posed readers with questions such as "Did ancient man live and fight with dinosaurs 100,000,000 year ago in Mexico?" . Harmer then said that Julsrud dates the figurines back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In this article, Julsrud says "only men of an age-old civilization, who knew the monsters, could have executed the ceramics and left them in the earth where they are being found today." This is Julsrud saying that the sculptures were so perfect that it simply could not have been made up. He is also saying that the sculptures must have been made by man, and since these are dated back to when dinosaurs roam the Earth, it must mean that humans and dinosaurs coexisted at some point.
The article that Harmer had written sparked interest of several individuals throughout the world. Specifically William Russell, a Los Angeles newspaperman. After reading this article, he went out to Acámbaro to write about the findings. He titled his article "Did Man Tame the Dinosaur?" In this article he concluded that there were no duplicate pieces and that "Each is either hand-molded, hand-carved, or both."  When the artifact was first discovered, people were skeptical of the authenticity of the figures. Most people outside of Young-Earth creationists believed humans and dinosaurs to have lived separately. Yet according to Russell, "nothing should becloud the evidence that Julsrud's Objects are very old."  What Russell is saying here is that while there may not be full proof on whether or not the objects are real, it is important to note that they are most certainly old and have some value.
Almost immediately the authenticity of these figurines were debated. If these figures really were proven to be true, then human evolution as we know it would have to be rewritten. Archaeologist Charles DiPeso traveled to Acámbaro in order to attempt to determine whether or not the artifacts were true. After chemical testing, DiPeso determined that while there was no true way to determine whether or not the figurines themselves were recently made. DiPeso reported that the figures had to have been around 200 years old. Initially DiPeso had thought there there may be a small possibility for these figurines to be real. His opinion was changed quickly after the results of his studies, concluding that they simply could't be real .
A strong argument in favor of the validity of the figures come from one specific dinosaur that was believed to be a sauropod. It wasn't discovered till 1992 that sauropods had spikes.  (2007).Yet when the figures were discovered, a figure of a sauropod had spikes on it. This was back in 1945-1953  The explanation to how the figurines had the accurate anatomy is unknown. That being said, many people believe that it simply must mean that the only for this to be true would be if people had actually seen it in person and recreated it.
Deconstructing the pseudoarchaelogical narrative
After DiPeso made his report on the figurines, he went on to further explain more evidence pointing towards why these sculptures do not prove the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs. He wrote in his report: "The figures were broken, in most cases, where the appendages attached themselves to the body of the figurines... No parts were missing. Furthermore, none of the broken surfaces were worn smooth."  This is DiPeso saying that the figurines are preserved too well. Saying that if these figurines really were around when dinosaurs were, there would have been much more damage to the artifacts. When examining the hole in which the figurines were excavated, there were signs of digging prior to when the figurines were set. With further investigation, DiPeso claimed that a family living near Acámbaro must have made the figurines.
A counter argument is that no one would take the time and effort to create thousands upon thousands of sculptures unless there were a great amount of money involved  Not to mention that this would take hundreds of men, that there was no way a single family could have made it. No family was found in the area nor was there any way of proving it to have been done by one family.
Other Signs of Coexistence between Man and Dinosaur
It is important to note the the Acámbaro Figurines are not the only artifact that there has been discussion on the topic of whether or not humans and dinosaurs coexisted. Another example that follows the idea of humans living with dinosaurs is found with the petroglyphs at the Kachina Bridge site in southeastern Utah. Located here are several depictions and carvings in stone of dinosaurs. This leaves many possibilities. One being that the image is not a dinosaur and is simply just a representation of an animal. Another is that the carving is old and hard to interpret properly. When examined closely, it was determined that the carvings were a mix between human-made carvings and stains of mud and light-colored mineral that appears to blend in with the carving. Overall, the carvings representing coexistence between humans and dinosaurs were simply a coincidence .
Another artifact that is used to try and prove the coexistence between humans and dinosaurs is the Taylor Trial is Glen Rose, Texas. The trail is just outside of the Dinosaur Valley State Park. What is located here, is a trail of dinosaur footprints, imprinted in mud that then hardened and became fossilized over time. Additionally, what makes this such a big deal, is that alongside the dinosaur footprints there are also what creationists claim to appear to be human footprints as well. Many Young Earth Creationists use this as physical evidence that humans and dinosaurs lived together at the same point. The issue with this artifact is that upon further research, all of the alleged human footprints were accompanied by coloration in the rock that revealed there to be patterns that lines up perfectly with those of the dinosaurs near them. This means that the footprints that appear to look like human feet, were actually dinosaur prints all along. Very easily could the mud that the dinosaur stepped in shifted around slightly/eroded to the point where it could seem to resemble a human foot. With further study conducted, it has been dismissed as plausible evidence to the point in which many modern Young Earth Creationists do not refer to the site.
- Research with an Agenda: Creationist Media on Archaeological Discoveries. Krystal Hammond. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396063)
- Harmer, Lowell (1951), “Mexico Finds Give Hint of Lost World: Dinosaur Statues Point to Men Who Lived in Age of Reptiles,” Los Angeles Times, B1-B2, March 25
- Russell, William N. (1952), “Did Man Tame the Dinosaur?,” Fate, 5:20-27
- Butt, Kyle. "Physical Evidence for the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans [Part ii]." (2008)
- Lyons, Eric, and M. Min. "Historical support for the coexistence of Dinosaurs and Humans [part i]."
- (DiPeso, Charles (1953), “The Clay Figurines of Acambaro, Guanajuato, Mexico,” American Antiquity, 18:388-389)
- Senter, Phil, and Sally J. Cole. "Dinosaur" petroglyphs at Kachina Bridge site, Natural Bridges National Monument, southeastern Utah: not dinosaurs after all." Palaeontologia Electronica 14.1 (2011): 2A-5p