Moab Man

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By Jennifer Gianetti

Lin Ottinger was leading a tour in 1971 when his life suddenly took a turn. Him and tour attendees discovered the first Moab Man, also referred to as Malachite Man, bones. Soon after, Jack Marwitt was called onto the site as the leading archaeologist for the first excavations. For years, this site has been excavated and dissected by archaeologists and creationists, alike. Scholars agree that the bones were most likely the product o a cave in [1]. Creationists believe the bones to be proof of two ideologies: the existence of modern humans 100 million years ago and Noah's Flood [1] [2]. Unsurprisingly, there is apparent evidence against the creationist perspective, however, websites like Official World Site Malachite Man still exist. These websites will often state undeniable lies, as described below.

Lin Ottinger and the discovery of the 1971 bones[3]


What is the Moab Man?

The Moab Man refers to the discovery of several human remains in the Keystone Azurite Mine, a mine located near Moab, Utah [1]. At least six different human skeletons were found; they were stained blue-green from the mineral known as Malachite. Scholars theorize the bones were either the product of a cave in, or a burial ceremony of the ancestral 6th and 7th century A.D. Puebloan people. Unfortunately, the original placement of the remains was disrupted by bulldozer activity. This made it difficult for archaeologists working the case to identify the stratigraphic and cultural context of the bones [3] [1].

Who are Lin Ottinger and Jack Marwitt?

Lin Ottinger is known as a local celebrity of Moab, Utah; in 1960, he opened up a rock shop located on Main Street. As the owner of Lin Ottinger's Moab Rock Shop, Ottinger sells rocks and arrowheads to the tourists that visit Moab each year [4]. His shop doubles as a museum, housing dinosaur bones, petrified wood, fossils, and the malachite-covered remains found in the Keystone Azurite Mine. Until 1980, which is when Ottinger decided to retire from the touring business, he would take groups on tours around the Canyonland National Park [5].

Lin Ottinger and his tour bus, before he stopped taking tours[5]

Jack Marwitt was the Field Director of the Utah Statewide Archaeological Survey, working under the University of Utah. He was hired to work the original Moab Man case in 1971. Sadly, his field notes were not publicly published. Although it is not confirmed, it appears as though Marwitt left the University of Utah after freelance writer Fran Barnes misquoted Marwitt's work as finding bones that were 100 million years old. This article sparked an influx of curious readers to request further information on this finding [1].


1971 excavations

Lin Ottinger, a resident of Moab who has a passion for collecting different items and owns a local rock shop, was collecting azurite nuggets at the Keystone Mine in May of 1971 with a small group when he came across two human remains. He informed the University of Utah about the finding, who later sent Jack Marwitt to assess the discovery. For the project, Marwitt partnered with Lin Ottinger, Fran Barnes, and two unnamed tourists. Barnes and the two tourists had signed up for Lin Ottinger's tour, where they were excavating for rocks, when they found human remains. Marwitt's notes described two skeletons, stained blue-green from a mineral named Malachite. The bones "appeared fragile and slightly mineralized" [1], however, Marwitt recorded that he believed they were fairly recent in age [3] [1]. Furthermore, his notes documented that the bones were not fossilized. After excavations finished, Lin Ottinger gave the bones to the University of Utah, so additional research could take place.

The remains, as stated above, were situated in an area recently disrupted by bulldozer activity. This left the bones incomplete and disturbed, and made it impossible to identify any further context that may have otherwise been found. Following Jack Marwitt's resignation, the bones were left at the University of Utah where they were used and damaged in human osteology classes. After hearing about this catastrophe, Lin Ottinger took the bones back for his own possession.

1990 excavations

August of 1990, the new owner of the Keystone-Wallace mine, Steve Kosanke, unearthed several human crania while mining for azurite. The new discoveries were about 20 meters east of the initial two discoveries by Lin Ottinger in 1971. Kosanke immediately called the deputy sheriff, who contacted the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), specifically their special agent Pam Stuart. Stuart contacted Julie Howard, an archaeologist for the Grand Resource Area Bureau of Land Management. Before starting excavations, Howard was required to contact Susan Miller, an archaeologist of Utah Department of Transportation, to identify if the bones were prehistoric Native Americans. Kosanke allowed them access after they received her confirmation, given they follow his three conditions. First, he wanted them to return the remains to him after they completed their work. Second, he wanted a professional archaeologist on-site to supervise at all times. Finally, he required a written report be prepared and submitted to himself and the Utah State Historic Preservation Office. Between August and October of 1990, excavations began under the supervision of Julie Howard. Members of the Moab Archaeological Society and other professional archaeologists helped with excavations, as well. Their work led to the discovery of two additional sets of human remains, as well as a few other artifacts (including charcoal and pollen) [1].

1991 excavations

Julie Howard, her husband, and Mr. and Mrs. Kosanke returned to the site in the summer of 1991. They continued the excavations from the previous year, and identified two more human remains. Their notes did not identify any context for the newly discovered remains [1].

1995 excavations

Further analysis of the Keystone-Wallace Mine led to more discoveries. Early 1995 excavations led by William Harrison, current owner of the mine, found several small bones (thought to have been possibly phalanges); they were unearthed in the same area as the 1990 and 1991 excavations. It was recorded in the notes that their context was uncertain. Harrison allowed a few creationists onto the site in the fall of 1995. About 15 meters north from the 1971 discoveries they uncovered several bone fragments. These fragments seem to be the missing pieces of the skeletal remains found by Jack Marwitt in 1971. The bulldozer activity in 1971, before the original excavations, could have caused this to occur [1].

What Is Malachite?

Malachite is known as a blue-green stone (or mineral) with the chemical composition of Cu2CO3(OH)2. The beautiful green color can be attributed to the element copper found in its chemical composition [6]. The stone, which is widely thought to have been mined from 350 to 500 A.D. [1], could be found in Mesoamerica and the Southwest. It is an extremely fragile stone, meaning the slightest scratch or change in temperature can shatter or chip it [6].

The fragile nature of the stone was found to be exceptionally useful when painting with pigments. The people of these prehistoric times, specifically located in Mesoamerica and the Southwest, would grind malachite into dry pigment to use on many forms of artwork. Occasionally, azurite and malachite would be combined to create a new pigmentation. Additionally, the stunning stone was utilized as a form of jewelry. Although, this was a rare occasion, as stones like turquoise were found more often than malachite and other copper stones [1] [6].

Pseudoarchaeological Narrative

Creationist Perspective

Creationists began making absurd claims after the initial discovery of the bones. Similar themes are found to be repeated throughout most of these claims. There are four most recognized: Don Patton, Dave Rudd, Fran Barnes, and Clifford Burdick [1] [3]. The first story published was by Fran Barnes in 1971 in The Times-Independent. His article claimed that the remains must be 100 million years old because they were found in Dakota Sandstone, which is 100 million years old [1] [7]. This article prompted fellow creationists to take his ideologists a step further. A 1973 publication of Creation Research Society Quarterly contained an article written by Clifford Burdick. Within the article, Burdick used facts from Marwitt's excavations, altering Marwitt's words and actions for his own beliefs. He stated the remains were undisturbed, joined together, and green from the mineral Malachite. Furthermore, his article claimed the location of the findings did not support the possibility of the ancient humans being buried in a cave. Burdick's article exploited the end of Marwitt's career. He claimed Marwitt gave the bones to Lin Ottinger, but there is no evidence to support this claim; Burdick uses the age of Dakota Sandstone to insinuate that was the actual reason he "gave the bones back to Ottinger" [8] [1].

Creationists Don Patton and Dave Rudd are accredited with creating the Official World Site Malachite Man. Patton, who attended some of the early 1990 excavations, attribute the burials as being caused by Noah's Flood. Patton and Rudd blatantly disregard facts about the site and excavations, creating their own narrative that other creationists have supported. They claim ten modern humans (men, women, and children), coated partly in malachite, were found buried 50 feet deep. They inferred that the humans could not have been miners because women and children were unlikely to be working in a mine [2]. According to Patton and Rudd, there were no tools found at the site, and the event that killed the humans was unlikely to be a cave in because the bones were intact. To help their elaborate story, they interviewed a bulldoze driver who had previously worked on the site, before the initial discoveries. He is quoted claiming there were "no tunnels or cracks in the extremely hard overlying layers of rock" [2]. The nature of this statement led them to believe these bones and dinosaurs were buried by the same widespread event, meaning modern humans must have been alive at the same time as dinosaurs.

These popular claims have sparked the interest of other fellow creationists; Ancient Human Skeletons is one example [9]. The author claims Lin Ottinger found two fossilized human skeletons, and goes on to quote the work of Burdick and Barnes.

Archaeological Perspective

Fran Barnes article, titled The Case of the Bones in Stone, claims the bones found in 1971 were trapped in a rock formation, in situ (or, in its original place) [7]. Marwitt's notes, as well as a latter sent by him, confirm that the bones were NOT located in situ [1] [3]. The remains were, however, located in a loose arrangement of sand and rocks [1]. If the bones were in situ, they would be the same age as the surrounding stone (Dakota Sandstone, which is 100 million years old [1]). Marwitt's confirmation allows archaeologists to disregard Barnes' claims that the remains must be 100 million years old. His disregard for fact is obvious once the entire excavation process and field notes are observed.

As stated above, the Official World Site Malachite Man is fictitious. It creates its own timeline to support wide-spread ideologies about when the 'creation' of modern humans occurred, and the phenomena known as "Noah's Flood". In order to support these beliefs, the creationists responsible for the website utilize two specific characteristics of the find: the Moab Man remains, and the context in which they were supposedly found [2] [3]. For example, they site a bulldoze driver, who they claim was the one to make the initial 1971 discovery. The driver states there were no tunnels or cracks in the rock surrounding area [2]. Both of these statements are simply untrue. According to the 1971 field notes by Jack Marwitt [1], Lin Ottinger came across the remains while searching for azurite nuggets. The 1995 Utah Archaeology article mentions bulldozer activity from previous mining, but Coulam and Schroedl (who reviewed and paraphrased the original field notes by Marwitt) do not discuss a bulldoze driver being the one to make the first discovery. Moreover, during a visit to the Keystone Azurite Mine in 1995, Schroedl and Coulam were shown the entrance to a small mining tunnel by Harrison (current owner of the mine), which was located about 7 meters north of the 1990 discoveries. This mine entrance is physical evidence of the inconsistencies in Patton and Rudd's writings [1]. Additionally, Patton and Rudd claim the remains were articulated fossils, or were subject to rapid fossilization [2]. Marwitt's 1971 field notes specifically state that the bones were fragile in nature and slightly mineralized, but they were not fossilized [1].

Finally, Ancient Human Skeletons[9] can be disproven through Utah Archaeology's 1995 article The Keystone Azurite Mine in Southeastern Utah [1]. Marwitt's 1971 field notes clearly state that the remains found were not fossilized, as the creationist article claims. Furthermore, they quote Burdick and Barnes as if their work is fact, but there is a considerable amount of evidence to prove otherwise.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 Coulam, N. J., & Schroedl, A. R. (1995). The Keystone Azurite Mine in Southeastern Utah. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Patton, D., & Rudd, D. (n.d.). Official World Site Malachite Man. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Kuban, G. J. (2006). "Moab Man" - "Malachite Man". Retrieved November 15, 2019, from
  4. Markosian, R. (2018, April 26). Lin Ottinger: Moab Dinosaur Hunter. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ventiera, S. (2017, March 17). The dinosaur hunter of Moab. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Malachite Meaning and Properties. (2008). Retrieved November 15, 2019, from
  7. 7.0 7.1 Barnes, F. A. (1995, February). Desert Magazine of the Southwest. Desert Magazine of the Southwest, 38(2), 36–39.
  8. Burdick, C. L. (1973, September). Discovery of Human Skeletons in Cretaceous Formation. Creation Research Society Quarterly, 10(2), 109–110.
  9. 9.0 9.1 n.a.(1999). Ancient Human Skeletons. Retrieved December 6, 2019, from