AN AMAZED DINER DISCOVERED the footprints of a large dinosaur while eating at a downtown restaurant in a city in China.
Ou Hongtao, a stone worker with an interest in palaeontology, realized that the indentations on the floor of the courtyard formed footprints. He was dining at a forest-themed restaurant in Leshan, Sichuan, in the southwestern part of China.
That evening, July 10, Ou made a call to an academic, Lida Xing, who had specialist knowledge of dinosaur fossils. Xing and colleagues arranged to study the findings, while the restaurateur closed off that part of his courtyard.
Within a week, investigators had the full story. About 100 million years ago, a pair of large sauropods (think of pictures you have seen labelled “brontosaurus”) were in the area. The pair walked along a river bed, leaving footprints in the dense mud. The mud dried out and fossilized into rock.
After the arrival of humans, the area was used as farmland. Recently, the farm fell into disuse and the ground was cleared to become the courtyard of a restaurant – and the footprints were revealed. Xing explained the story to reporters from the Global Times and USA Today.
CHINA RICH IN FOSSILS
China has an unusually large number of dinosaur fossils. Excellent relationships between the country’s palaeontologists and those around the world mean that important discoveries are made regularly.
Fossil-hunting scientists also recently announced that they had uncovered a “stomping ground” with about 4,300 prints in Hebei Province, northern China. The anomalies were discovered in April of 2020, but the official announcement was just made recently – normal for scientific discoveries.
The conclusion was that an area of about 9,000 square meters was a popular meeting place for dinosaurs about 150 million years ago.
A fossil found last year turned out to be a land animal close to the size of the blue whale, making it one of the largest creatures to have ever lived. The creature called Silutitan by scientists was estimated to be up to 20 meters or 65 feet long. For comparison, an elephant is only about six meters long including the trunk.
Image at the top by Associate Professor Lida Xing/ China University of Geosciences