Imagine walking into a restaurant in search of something delicious, only to find dinosaur footprints dating back to the Cretaceous! Believe it or not, that’s precisely what happened with a paleontology-enthusiast in China earlier this month.
A restaurant in southwestern China was discovered to be harboring ancient history after dinosaur footprints – dating back 100 million years – were found in the establishment's outdoor courtyard.
On July 10, Ou Hongtao visited a restaurant in Leshan (based in China’s Sichuan province) as per usual, when his eyes caught something quite unusual.
In the yard of the restaurant, he spotted “special dents” on the ground that looked very much like dinosaur footprints to him.
His assumptions were soon confirmed by a team headed by Dr Lida Xing, a paleontologist and associate professor at the China University of Geosciences.
Sauropods' species include the popularized brontosaurus and were known for their long necks and tails. They're considered the largest animals ever to walk the Earth – extending the length of three school buses.
Xing noted that the footprints found in the courtyard indicated the animal was about 26 feet long. They roamed the Earth during the Cretaceous period that lasted from about 145 to 66 million years ago, at a time when dinosaurs flourished around the globe.
What makes this find even more incredible is its rarity — in China, the field of paleontology is being hampered by the country’s rapid development, with construction projects increasingly destroying countless fossils.
It was sheer luck that kept these footprints intact. Prior to the restaurant, the site was home to a chicken farm where sand and dirt possibly helped protect the prints.
The find in Sichuan is also rare because it dates back to the Cretaceous period, believed to be a glory era for the dinosaurs by many paleontologists.
According to Xing, the restaurant owner has fenced off the area in the courtyard so people do not disrupt the footprints.