Discovery of what looks like a giant humanoid footprint millions of years old is being touted as evidence of a giant alien race that lived on or visited Earth hundreds of millions of years ago.
The footprint was first discovered near the South African town of Mpuluzi in the northeastern Mpumalanga province close to the border with Swaziland in 1912 by a hunter named Stoffel Coetzee.
According to Michael Tellinger, who uploaded to YouTube a video of his visit to the site in 2012 (see below), the "footprint," known to locals as the "Footprint of God," is about four feet (1.2 meters) in length.
Based on the relative proportions of the human body, the hypothetical owner of the footprint would have been 24-27 feet (7.5-8 meters) in height, according to Tellinger.
Although he estimated the age of the rock at "somewhere between 200 million and 3 billion years old," the granite outcrop is part of South Africa's geological formation known as the Mpuluzi Batholith, and according to geologists, it was formed about 3.1 billion years ago.
Going by geologists' estimation of the age of the rock formation, the "footprint" could be about 3.1 billion years old. It has proved a brain teaser for geologists who have struggled to explain it. But for locals, the explanation is simple -- it is the footprint left behind by a supernatural being in the distant mythical past.
Some locals say it is the footprint of the biblical Goliath. Others say it is the footprint of the first man Adam. But all agree that it is a holy site where special spiritual healing powers reside.
Tellinger argued that the "footprint" is evidence that giants lived on the Earth in the distant past. But others believe that the giants were alien visitors.
Tellinger and other believers in the theory of ancient giant races point to the fact that practically all human cultures -- Greek, Norse, Indian, Mayan, Aztec, and Inca -- tell stories about superhuman giants that lived on Earth in the mythical past.
At the time it was first discovered by Europeans in 1912, the area, known as the Eastern Transvaal, teemed with wildlife. And because the location was remote and difficult to access at the time, it was assumed that it was not a deliberate hoax. But some suggested that it could have been carved by prehistoric humans.
Some observers have responded to the theory that it was carved by prehistoric humans, arguing that if it was carved into the rock by humans, we should expect to see evidence of chisel marks, sharp edges, and file impressions. But the fact that the telltale signs of human agency are apparently absent leads to the conclusion that it was caused by other means, such as a natural geological process, or as Tellinger and others believe, a giant who sank his foot into the molten magma that later solidified into the rock millions of years ago.
But skeptics reject the "giant footprint" theory.
Dr. Jay Wile, a nuclear chemist, asserted that "it is almost certainly not a footprint."
Wile pointed out that the rock is intrusive granite. This means that it was formed underground. Thus, the only time a foot could have sunk into it and left a print was when it was several hundred degrees hot deep below the Earth's surface.
Another critic, Garth Mitchell, writing on News24, argued that the "giant footprint" theory could not be true because it is impossible for a living being to leave a footprint in soft, molten material from which the granite rock was formed by slow cooling over thousands of years.
According to Mitchell, the cooling occurred several kilometers below the Earth's surface before it was exposed to the surface. He also pointed out that the molten magma from which the rock was formed was very hot, about 1,200 degrees centigrade.
It is difficult to imagine a giant making a footprint several kilometers below the Earth's surface in material that was over 1,200 degrees centigrade.
"Even more ridiculous is the claim that living beings of this size and complexity existed 3 billion years ago... there was little oxygen in Earth's atmosphere during the time period in question, certainly not the levels of oxygen required to support complex living beings..."
However, supporters of the "giant footprint" theory say that skeptics take the current scientific consensus about how granite rocks were formed for granted as settled truth. They argue that future developments in understanding of the geological process that led to the formation of the outcrop could show that warm molten magma was exposed on the Earth's surface, thus allowing a 27-foot giant weighing several tons to sink his foot into it.
Tellinger argued that the "shelf of rock" in front of the "toes" of the "footprint" shows that as a giant pulled his foot out of the soft magma, he pulled up some of the molten material, which piled at the "toes."
But Wile argued that Tellinger's explanation of the "shelf of rock" was unlikely to be true because the height of the shelf or mound of rock is nearly equal to the depth of the "footprint."
"Try making a footprint that piles mud in front of your toes as high as your footprint is deep. It's difficult, to say the least. At minimum, I can say I haven't seen such a structure on any human footprint... I also haven't seen one in any fossilized human footprints."
Wiles, a Christian, also argued that the Bible does not mention giants close to 27 feet tall. According to Wiles, the largest biblical giant, Og, King of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:11), had a bed about 13.5 feet in length. This means that Og was probably about 12 feet tall.
Goliath was about 9.7 feet tall, Wile noted.
He concluded that the size of person needed to make such a footprint rules out the possibility that it was a footprint.
But Wile's argument ignores the fact that many proponents of the "giant footprint" theory say that although the footprint looks human, it is not really human, but likely belonged to a gigantic humanoid species with footprint characteristics similar to human but different in details.
Wile argued that the shape was formed by erosion, a natural process. He compared it with the Roccia Dell 'Orso, a strange granite formation shaped like a bear that is a tourist attraction in the Republic of Palau.
According to Wile, the rock exhibits the tafoni feature found in granite formations exposed to erosion. The "giant footprint" is simply a tafone that happens to be shaped like a human foot, according to Wile.
Anticipating Wile's reasoning, Tellinger scoffed at the suggestion that a shape with distinct features of a human foot, including five toes, could have been formed accidentally by erosion.
He quoted Professor Pieter Wagener, professor of applied mathematics at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, saying that "there is a higher probability of little green men arriving from space and licking it out with their tongues than being created by natural erosion."
Indeed, the striking resemblance to a human foot would make many reject the suggestion that it was an accidental pattern formation of erosion.
Ancient Code argued that the "the forefoot, midfoot and hindfoot" are too distinct in structure to be dismissed as yet another case of pareidolia or apophenia -- the human "tendency of seeing patterns and object that actually do not exist."
[Images: YouTube/Michael Tellinger]