Diner accidentally discovers dinosaur footprints at restaurant in China

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A diner sitting in the outdoor courtyard of a small restaurant in China’s Sichuan province looked down and spotted something unusual. It looked like a dinosaur footprint.

Two weeks ago, Chinese paleontologists confirmed that the restaurant was right. The depressions had actually been left by two dinosaurs as they passed through the area around 100 million years ago.

Using a 3D scanner, scientists determined that the tracks had been made by sauropods — large, long-necked, four-legged herbivorous dinosaurs. According to Lida Xing, a paleontologist at the University of Geosciences of China who led the team investigating the site, these footprints were likely left by the species. Titanosauriformes.

Discoveries shed new light on the day the dinosaurs died

The footprints are about 22 inches long on average, and the dinosaurs were likely about 26 feet long and weighed more than 2,000 pounds, Xing told The Washington Post.

Although not an everyday occurrence, the discovery of dinosaur footprints does occur occasionally in China, but not in urban environments.

“Sauropod tracks are not uncommon in the Sichuan Basin…but they are very rare[ly] found in downtown restaurants,” Xing said in an email. “Most of the time, the ground in the city is either vegetation or cement.”

But it wasn’t the first accidental discovery of dinosaur remains in recent years.

Take, for example, the case of Mark McMenamin, who walked through the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst last year. He and his wife picked up rocks at a construction site, then later noticed that one of them appeared to be a fossil.

It was, in fact, the elbow bone of a 30-foot-long predatory dinosaur known as the neotheropod. McMenamin, a professor of geology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, estimated the Jurassic fossil to be between 145 and 200 million years old, Newsweek reported.

Then there was the discovery of a well-preserved dinosaur “corpse” unearthed by miners in Canada. While digging at the Suncor Millennium mine in Alberta in 2011, they came across the fossilized remains of a Nodosaurusa heavily armored creature dating back around 110 million years, according to National geographic.

First shown in 2017, it is considered one of the best-preserved dinosaur fossils ever discovered. The remains are so complete that scientists at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta were able to examine its stomach contents, including twigs, leaves, mosses, pollen and spores.

Last year, archaeologist Marie Woods was searching for clams on the beach in Yorkshire, England, when she spotted something unusual: the 165-million-year-old footprint of a species of theropod. A dinosaur similar to a tyrannosaurus rex, this ancient reptile also stood on two legs and was carnivorous. It was the largest such footprint ever found in this part of England, reported the Good News Network.

“All I wanted to do was grab some seashells for my dinner and I ended up stumbling across them,” Woods told the website.

In 2011, paleontologists in China discovered a large rock with a fish fossil on the surface. They took him back to the lab, where he stayed for about a year, according to new scientist. Then the researchers decided to break it.

To their astonishment, they discovered inside the remains of a mother ichthyosaur – a fish-like creature that swam the oceans during the Mesozoic Era 252-66 million years ago – giving birth to three babies. One was already out of the womb, another was halfway there, and the third was waiting for his chance.

This discovery of fossils changed the view of when dinosaurs began to have live births, pushing back the historical record by almost 250 million years. Ichthyosaurs, which evolved from land creatures, proved that dinosaurs transitioned from laying eggs much earlier than previously thought.

“This style of birth is only possible if they have inherited it from their earthly ancestors,” said one of the researchers. Live Science. “They wouldn’t if the live birth evolved in water.”

Back at the restaurant in Sichuan province, Xing and his team continue to investigate the accidental discovery of dinosaur tracks. The area where the footprints of the sauropods were noticed was marked off so that curious diners would not accidentally hurt them.

At first, the restaurant owner feared that news of the primordial discovery would impact her business serving home-cooked meals based on local cuisine. However, she has since embraced the hype.

“She was initially worried about attracting a lot of onlookers and affecting the restaurant’s traditional customers,” Xing wrote. “But now she understands the change and is ready to roll out dinosaur-themed treats.”

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