Di­nosaur foot­prints found at mine

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu [email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

A large area of fos­silized di­nosaur foot­prints has been found at a cop­per mine in Sichuan prov­ince.

The mine’s owner has agreed to a re­quest from Zhao­jue county, in the Liang­shan Yi au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, to stop op­er­a­tions, Ebi Jiefang, former head of the Zhao­jue cul­tural her­itage ad­min­is­tra­tion, said on Thurs­day.

On the af­ter­noon of Nov 28, Ebi was at his home in Xichang when he re­ceived a call from Zike Lage, Party sec­re­tary of Zhao­jue county.

“He said fos­silized di­nosaur foot­prints had been found after rocks were blasted away in the San­bilu­oga Cop­per Mine, and he sent an SUV to Xichang to take me to the site,” Ebi said.

At the mine he found di­nosaur foot­prints in three ar­eas rang­ing from 4,000 to 8,000 square me­ters. At one site, foot­prints of two, three, four and five toes were seen.

“It was the first time I had seen fos­silized foot­prints with two toes,” Ebi said.

Fos­silized di­nosaur foot­prints had been seen at the cop­per mine in 1991, but no­body knew what they were. Four years later, Ebi went to the site with a cu­ra­tor of the Sichuan Mu­seum, who was an ex­pert in an­cient crea­tures, and ver­i­fied them.

Fos­silized di­nosaur foot­prints had also been found at an­other site in Zhao­jue, he said.

Based on many sets of prints, sci­en­tists have made dis­cov­er­ies, in­clud­ing prov­ing that car­niv­o­rous di­nosaurs — pre­vi­ously thought to be poorly adapted to aquatic con­di­tions — could swim, he said.

But one set of prints, a col­lec­tion of around 3,000 di­nosaur tracks dis­cov­ered in 1991, has been de­stroyed by min­ing.

Xing Lida from China Univer­sity of Geo­sciences will ar­rive in Zhao­jue later this month. To­gether with other pa­le­on­tol­o­gists, Xing is ex­pected to for­mu­late a sug­ges­tion for pro­tect­ing the foot­prints, Ebi said.

Zhao­jue is a poor county need­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port from high­er­level gov­ern­ments for pro­tec­tion, he said.

Pa­le­on­tol­o­gists think that more than 100 mil­lion years ago, Zhao­jue had soft lake sed­i­ments on which di­nosaurs walked, leav­ing deep foot­prints that were cov­ered by sed­i­ment and fos­silized.

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