Raising the allosaurus and bordering on deception
“We want to assure our friends that we firmly stand behind the integrity of the film Raising the Allosaur. Also, contrary to the claims of our detractors, the voluntary decision to withdraw the film from circulation (for the present) had nothing to do with concerns on our part that the film was untruthful. ”
Josh Wean, CFO, Vision Forum, Inc
“I made this suggestion not because of any inaccuracies or falsehoods in the video, but because instead of bringing glory to Christ it had become a lightening rod for criticism and divisiveness.”
Ed Watt, Attorney representing the DeRosa Family
In 2002, Vision Forum released its bestselling documentary Raising the Allosaur. Narrated by Doug Phillips, under the pseudonym of Winston MacArthur, the movie purports to be “the true story of a rare dinosaur and the homeschoolers who found it.” Unfortunately, the sequence of events as narrated in Raising the Allosaur are incomplete and border on deception. One such area of great concern is that of the raising and transportation of the allosaurus skull.
In Raising the Allosaur Phillips states, “The guests of Vision Forum and Creation expeditions have returned home, but the real work is still before the DeRosa family.” This statement gives the impression that the DeRosa family directed the excavation of the allosaurus skull and the other field jackets. However, Phillip Hall44 and Terry Beh44 have testified that the DeRosa family’s first hard rock dinosaur dig was in May 2001. As stated by Phillip Hall, “I had met the DeRosa Family the previous year on a Creation Evidence Museum dig. It was their very first dinosaur excavation – Joe [Taylor] had invited them to the dig to learn how to do dinosaur excavation which was very different than the kinds of excavation that they were used to.” The DeRosa family did not have the experience necessary to conduct such an important hard rock dig one year later. Joe Taylor was the only paleontologist on site and orchestrated the excavation with his technical knowledge and experience. Taylor opened his creation museum in 1998, has been working with fossils for nearly twenty years and has written and published a book titled “Fossil Facts & Fantasies.” As shown in the brief video clip below, it was Taylor, not the DeRosas who was directing the entire dig team at May 2002 allosaurus dig.
Figure 1 – Joe Taylor directing the removal of the allosaurus field jacket during the May 2002 allosaurus dig.
Taylor, as a seasoned paleontologist, encourages everyone working with him to take as many photos and as much video footage as they can. The information contained in these pictures and videos is often useful later for documentation. The allosaurus dig was no exception, as there was much video and many photos taken, both the year preceding the Vision Forum tour group when twelve feet of vertebra were removed and in the days of excavation that followed the Vision Forum tour group. However, Raising the Allosaur does not contain any video footage of the actual raising of the allosaurus. The film crew on location for the duration of the Vision Forum tour group left before the excavation of the allosaurus began for the season. Taylor was never contacted for any of his photo or video documentation.
The still photographs which are used in the documentary are often inaccurate representations of the narration. In regards to the allosaurus skull, Phillips asserts, “using electric hammers they free the package from the ground, and finally through the creative use of winches they lower the valuable fossil into a truck more then 50 ft below the dig site.” The photos shown in the documentary supposedly depict the lowering of the skull, when in fact what is shown is another smaller field jacket. The documentary itself bares witness to this fact, as many of the other photos that the narrator claims to be the allosaurus skull do indeed show the skull and give evidence to the distinct difference in size and shape between the different field jackets. The skull field jacket weighed between 700 and 800 pounds, and as shown in the video below, it took as many as 11 men (Don Yeager and George Bosick, are off camera) along with a come along winch and rope system to actually lower the allosaurus skull down the steep incline into the bed of the truck.
Figure 2 – Video footage of the allosaurus skull field jacket being lowered down the hill.
Photo from Raising the Allosaur supposedly depicting the skull field jacket, but actually depicting either the neck or tail vertebra field jacket.
Another photo from Raising the Allosaur supposedly depicting the skull field jacket, but actually depicting either the neck or tail vertebra field jacket.
Photo of the skull from Raising the Allosaur being unloaded at Vision Forum in August 2002
Photo of the skull from Raising the Allosaur entering the lab at Vision Forum in August 2002
Photo from Raising the Allosaur of the skull at Vision Forum headquarters in San Antonio.
Photo of the skull after it has been plastered in May 2002
Photo of the skull before it is lowered down the hill in May 2002
There are also misleading statements made in the documentary Raising the Allosaur. Phillips continues, “But the adventure of a lifetime was just beginning for the intrepid team of allosaur hunters. Before them lay the mammoth task of transporting more then two thousand miles by truck this fossilized monster. Their all too cognizant of the fact that a serious mistake in the transportation could cause irreparable damage to the valuable skull. It’s a dangerous journey but the fragile allosaur survives to be unloaded and prepped for it’s skeletal resurrection at the ad-hoc paleontological laboratories of the Vision Forum in San Antonio, Texas.”
The above statement implies that the allosaurus skull traveled directly from the Forbes Ranch to Vision Forum in San Antonio, Texas when in fact it was in Crosbyton, Texas for several months. Peter and Mark DeRosa along with Daniel Burns transported the field jackets to Taylor’s Mt Blanco Fossil Museum, before returning to Colorado to rejoin Taylor and eventually travel together to a dig in Montana. This has been testified by Terry Beh44, Phillip Hall44 , Don Ensign44 among others. In the following video, the field jackets are filmed inside Taylor’s museum before the DeRosas arrived to transport them to San Antonio on August 24, 2002. Photos 7-1 to 7-2 below from Raising the Allosaur depict the skull being loaded not from the Forbes property in Colorado but from Taylor’s museum into the back of a U-Haul truck being used by the DeRosas.
Figure 6 – Video taken at Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum showing the allosaurus skull field jacket being prepped for loading into a truck.
Photo from Raising the Allosaur showing Pete DeRosa and sons loading the skull into a U-Haul truck.
Photo from Raising the Allosaur of the skull being loaded from Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum into a U-Haul truck.
Occasionally both a statement made is incorrect and the picture is an inaccurate representation of the narration. Phillips stated, “The next goal is to build a wooden sled, which will attach to the plastered skull thus stabilizing the fossil and enabling better mobility.”
Figure 8 – This image is shown when the narrator refers to a sled being built for the skull.
There are two things wrong with the narrator’s statement. First, the field jacket being shown is not of the skull but another smaller field jacket. Second, the narrator also describes a sled being built to stabilize the skull and give it better mobility. The wood pieces used to support the field jacket being shown is not a sled. The wooden structure helps prevent the plastered field jacket from craking and moving. A sled is mainly used to help move fossils out of hard to reach areas to where they can then easily be loaded and usually consist of a car hood or something strong and flat. Vertpaleo.org is a good reference of what materials are used to build a sled and how they are used. The skull field jacket was placed on a standard pallet to move it slowly down the hill and did have pieces of wood attached to the bottom so it could sit flat on the pallet (Figure 5-1). There were no sleds built for any of the allosaurus field jackets during this dig.44
Phillips also asserts, “It will take 12 men, several tons of heavy equipment and three days to cut through the rock which they believe contains the skull.” It is not true that several tons of heavy equipment were used during the excavation. According to Jordan Hall, whose family provided several tools for this dig including the tent which is shown in the documentary, the tools used for this excavation were electric hammer drills, generators, air compressors and pneumatic hammers, but no heavy equipment. He stated that the term heavy equipment for an excavation would consist of something like a front loader or an excavator or perhaps a jackhammer, but would not be used to describe the tools previously mentioned. Hall did not believe all the tools that were used would weigh several tons combined.
The many mistakes and inaccuracies in Raising the Allosaur would not have been put forth or overlooked by veterans of paleontology. Vision Forum attorney Don Hart asserted in 2004 that Pete DeRosa worked along side with Phillips in editing the film44. Pete DeRosa could have easily corrected the many problems with the film’s handling of the excavation of the allosaurus. Pete DeRosa along with Mark and Peter all saw the various field jackets during the dig. It was Peter and Mark DeRosa along with Mr. Burns who drove the field jackets back to Taylor’s museum. The DeRosa family should all be very familiar with the skull field jacket as they all worked at removing the plaster jacket as seen in figure 9 below.
DeRosa children stand around the plastered allosaurus skull in the Vision Forum lab.
The allosaurus skull was not raised and transported as depicted in Vision Forum’s Raising the Allosaur. These examples are just some of the inaccuracies and misinformation that abound in Doug Phillip’s first documentary. It is grievous that the true story of this rare dinosaur was not told to the homeschool community. However, Lord willing, this will be remedied in due time…4
- Phillp Hall’s testimony444
- Terry Beh’s allosaurus article444444
- Phillp Hall’s testimony444
- Don Ensign’s journal entry mentioning the unloading of the allosaurus skull444
- Testimony of both Phillip and Jordan Hall444
- Testimony of Randy Gavin444