A restaurant in southwestern China harbors a secret inside: dinosaur footprints, nothing more, nothing less. It was a diner who found them on the stone floor of the patio and suspected that they were the marks left by the ancient inhabitants of Earth. His suspicions were confirmed by investigators.
According to paleontologists, the dinosaur footprints that have been found in the outdoor courtyard of the restaurant in Leshan, Sichuan province, belong to two sauropods , herbivorous dinosaurs that lived during the early Cretaceous period. The traces would be about 100 million years old .
The footprints could be seen on different stones on the patio floor . Before being a restaurant, the establishment was a farm and the footprints had been covered with layers of earth to protect them from the damaging effects of weather.
The team of paleontologists confirmed the discovery last Saturday after passing the footprints through a 3D scanner.
Sauropods are known for their long necks and tails. They are considered the largest animals that have walked our planet, with a length that would be equivalent to three school buses. Within this type of dinosaur would be the famous brontosaurus . Lida Xing, a paleontologist and associate professor at the China University of Geosciences, said that considering the size of the dinosaur footprints found in the restaurant, the animals must have been around 8 meters long .
Xing said that it is a challenge for paleontologists to study fossils in China as the country is in constant development and construction. He also noted that the restaurant discovery is especially rare. Xing’s team intends to visit the sites within 48 hours of the find, before more is built.
The Sichuan find is also rare because it dates back to the Cretaceous period, which many paleontologists consider a prosperous time for dinosaurs.
According to Xing, the owner of the restaurant has fenced off the patio area to prevent people from damaging it.
2022 has been an interesting year when it comes to sauropod-related discoveries. In February the diplodocid “Dolly” revealed interesting insights into sauropod disease, as signs of wear on her long neck indicated she may have had a cold. It also revealed the existence of air sacs that are believed to allow sauropods to keep their long necks raised. This finding meant another weak point of the dinosaur in the face of getting sick.