The Hava Supai Dinosaur Carving
In 1879, E. L. Doheny, a young prospector out of Los Angeles, California, together with a party of fellow adventurers, wandered into the Hava Supai Canyon in northern Arizona. The region was wild and scarcely had been visited by white men at the time. The area had been inhabited, however, by the Hava Supai Indians for a very long while.
Forty-five years later, in the autumn of 1924, Doheny would sponsor a scientific expedition back into the remote region to study strange Indian carvings on the canyon wall. Some very remarkable findings came out of this venture.
The expedition was directed by Samuel Hubbard, Honorary Curator of Archaeology with the Oakland Museum, Oakland, California. Charles W. Gilmore, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology with the United States National Museum, was an accompanying scientist. Also in the company were a photographer, a sculptor, and several assistants.
The group left Los Angeles by the Santa Fe railroad, journeyed to the region of the Grand Canyon, and then eventually, by mule pack-train, entered into the Hava Supai Canyon. Professor Hubbard was happy to be in the area again, having been there on two previous expeditions, once in the fall of 1894, and on another occasion in February/March of 1895. On these earlier visits Hubbard had noticed strange carvings on one of the canyon walls, the significance of which he had not appreciated initially.
The walls of the Hava Supai Canyon are of red sandstone, yet covered by a thin veneer of oxidized, gray iron—locally known as “Desert Varnish.” By the use of some sort of sharp writing instruments (e.g., flint), the early Indians could scrape away the exterior coating, thus revealing the bright red sandstone beneath. It was a perfect way to do “artwork” on a “canvas” that virtually was imperishable.
One of the most startling discoveries was that of a “dinosaur” pictograph! The carving was photographed and a cast was made of the indentations.
Hubbard suggested that the dinosaur had dimensions similar to those of the ancient Diplodocus, and in his report of the expedition, he published a photograph of the carving, with an artist’s rendition of a Diplodocus on the opposite page, for comparison sake.
The dimensions of the ancient artist’s carving of the monster-creature are as follows. The height is 11.2 inches; the greatest width, 7 inches. The length of the neck is some 5.1 inches, while the tail is approximately 9.1 inches.
Dr. Hubbard was astounded. At this point, the reader must understand that the Oakland Museum’s curator firmly subscribed to the theory of evolution. He wrote in his report: “[E]volution is the law of time. There is no more doubt about the fundamental truth of Evolution than there is that an apple falls from the bough to the Earth” (p. 38).
Though Hubbard did not repudiate his basic belief in evolution, he could not shake the feeling that something, somewhere was terribly wrong with the Darwinian scenario. Expressing his frustration elsewhere, he declared:
“The fact that some prehistoric man made a pictograph of a dinosaur on the walls of this canyon upsets completely all of our theories regarding the antiquity of man. Facts are stubborn and immutable things. If theories do not square with the facts then the theories must change, the facts remain” (p. 5; emphasis original).
After studying the pictograph carefully, and giving the matter some logical reflection, Prof. Hubbard drew some rather reasonable deductions.
The fact that the animal is pictured upright, and balanced on its tail, “would seem to indicate that the artist must have seen it alive” (p. 7).
The artist himself was not a brutish half-human creature. He was a tool-maker, using an instrument to skillfully carve in the hard stone (perhaps with a flint chisel or knife). He had an artist’s eye for form and sense of proportion. He selected a medium that would preserve his art (p. 9).
The carving apparently was not merely an exhibition of one’s imagination, for it was clustered with other creatures, e.g., goats (the Ibex), serpents, an elephant, and several additional unidentifiable objects. Too, there were battle implements, e.g., a shield and spear (p. 9).
This does not mean, of course, that all the pictographs were made at the same time, or by the same person, but it does reveal the skill of these craftsmen and the fact that they saw these creatures personally.
All of the evidence pointed to the conclusion that this strange creature was real, and nothing bore a better resemblance to the image than some species of dinosaur.
Add to this the fact that not many miles away, near the edge of the Painted Desert, were fossilized dinosaur tracks on a sandy shore of what had once been an ancient sea (p. 13). The largest of the tracks were 16 inches long by 14 inches wide. These tracks lent credibility to the conclusion that once there were dinosaurs in this general region, which, it appears, had been observed by the natives of the area.
Why has this discovery been given only scant notice? Why has this evidence, with but a wave of the hand, been rejected by the “scientific” community?
The answer is all too obvious. These discoveries (and many others of a similar nature) have thrown a “monkey wrench” into the evolutionary scenario. Hence the rule has been, “when you cannot explain a phenomenon, just ignore it.”
Dr. Hubbard recounted that when a photograph of the dinosaur pictograph was sent to a prominent scientist for evaluation, the gentleman’s response simply was: “It is not a dinosaur, it is impossible, because we know that dinosaurs were extinct 12 million years before man appeared on earth” (p. 9).
Note: That 12 million years has now been stretched to some 60 million! Evolutionary chronology is strange indeed!
- Hubbard, Samuel. 1925. Discoveries Relating to Prehistoric Man by the Doheny Scientific Expedition in the Hava Supai Canyon — With Supplement. San Francisco, CA: Sunset Press.
- For the text of the Doheny expedition report, together with photographs, see: http://www.creationism.org/swift/DohenyExpedition/Doheny01Main.htm
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.