`Extra! Extra! Read all about it!"

Ed Conrad (edconrad@sunlink.net)
Tue, 14 Jan 1997 11:52:48 GMT

The following article appeared on the front page of the Wilkes-Barre
(Pa.) Times Leader newspaper on Sunday, Jan. 12:

Times Leader Staff Writer

HAZLETON -- Ed Conrad says there are things under our feet that
could turn the scientific world on its ear.
Petrified skulls, teeth and bones embedded in Pennsylvania's coal
fields prove that mainstream science is wrong about evolution, geology
and anthropology, according to the journalist and amateur fossil
The scientists say Ed is just in over his head.
``Science is all wet," counters Conrad, who claims to have found 30
to 40 human and hominid fossils in coal deposits that scientists say
formed 280 million years ago. Current theories date the appearance
of man's first hominid ancestors to 4 million years ago.

Conrad, a reporter at the Hazleton Standard-Speaker, says scientists
have used ``deceit, deception, collusion and conspiracy" to bury his
theories. He's argued with them in their laboratories, in the
newspapers and, now, on the Internet.
``They don't want to side with me because their careers would be

Scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and from Penn State,
Temple and other universities have examined some of the objects
Conrad has removed from 24 strip-mining areas in Luzerne and
Schuylkill counties.
None has endorsed his theories, judging the objects to be rock
formations, not fossilized bone from humans and animals that
scientists say did not exist when the coal was formed.

``Don't be snowed under by so-called authorities," says Conrad, a
57-year-old Shenandoah resident who found his first ``fossil," a large
skull-like object, by chance 16 years ago.
Through years of amateur research, Conrad has stuck stubbornly to his
theory against all comers.
``I've never had more than five people in my corner at any one time."

But Conrad's corner is getting a bit more crowded.
The expansion of the Internet has given Conrad low-cost computer
access to millions and won his theories' attention from online
creationists and catastrophists. The latter believe ancient myths and
Biblical episodes stem from actual events caused by shifts in the
orbits of planets and other natural catastrophes.

Although Conrad's theories don't have a religious base, he finds some
points of agreement with creationsts, some of whom insist on a literal
interpretation of the creation story in the Bible.
``I'm not a Bible thumper. I'm certainly not a creationist," Conrad
says. ``But anyone who would not believe in a creator would have to be
an imbecile."

One catastrophist has put pictures of Conrad's finds on the Internet.
And Conrad regularly engages in heated arguments with scientists
and others on ``news groups," computer bulletin boards dedicated
to various subjects.
Some of the arguments have become so vehment that Conrad's Internet
provider canceled his account after receiving complaints about
``flames," computerese for messages containing pesonal attacks.
One scientist who has confronted Conrad online and in the laboratory
says Conrad is a ``very stubborn person.
``He's made up his mind and no evidence is going to change it," says
Paul Z. Meyers, a biology professor at Temple University in

Last summer, Myers inspected one of Conrad's specimens and decided it
was not fossilized bone because it lacked telltale features, such as
channels to carry nutrients.
``There's just absolutely nothing there," Myers says.
Myers says Conrad's finds are ``concretions," rocks that formed in
animal burrows dug long after the coal fields had formed from
compressed plants.
At the time anthracite coal was forming, the only animal life were
insects, amphibians and fish, Myers says.
``The concretions are infilled animal burrows. It's a later
formation," Myers says.
``Ed wasn't happy with those results."

But Myers says Conrad's theories can be useful.
``In some ways, it's good that Ed's ideas are getting some exposure.
``There's a lot of work being done to discredit him. We're thinking
very seriously about the issues he's bringing up.
``As an exercise in rethinking things, it's very good. That's one
aspect of science."