Almost 20 dinosaur footprints by lunch

The field site.

Perhaps there is something to wishing wells after all. Or at least wishing dinosaurs. The original plan was to spend the morning at the Dongyang museum and then the afternoon in the field looking for dinosaur footprints. The threat of afternoon rain prompted Dr. Jin to shoo us out of the museum and back on the bus. We did, however, manage to throw a couple coins into the display case of a dinosaur that the museum had designated as a wishing well of sorts.

We arrived at the locality site with a team of newspaper and TV reporters, hoping to capture American paleontologists making a discovery. It wasn’t long before everyone got what they wanted. It is unclear what this site was originally excavated for or way it was abandoned, but in any case it is now a field of rocks, rubble, and rubbish. The red shale was known to yield footprints, and a quick examination of any one rock would reveal why. These rocks preserved anything you might come across on the ground today- mud cracks, rain drops, worm tracks, burrows, and yes, footprints. Within fifteen minutes, members of the group were proudly hailing slabs of rock bearing clear footprints. Ashley even found a therapod tooth. It’s a surreal experience to walk through piles of mannequin parts, floor tiles, and rock and then find a 67-million year old footprint from a dinosaur. By lunchtime, we had found nearly twenty footprints.

One of the many footprints found.

I don't think this is what made the footprints...

The director of the museum treated us to a victory dinner (and a very nice one at that) and we spent the rest of the day looking at more egg specimens at the local museum and wandering the shops of  Dongyan.  The city is famous for its woodcarvings, which defy nearly any concept of what one can make out of wood. Moving through the shops here is a little like walking through a never-ending art gallery, each shop more spectacular than the next. The day was successful. We found footprints, looked at tons of eggs, and saw some great culture. Tomorrow, we head to Tiantai, hopefully to find some dinosaur eggs.

Danny and his find.

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One Response to Almost 20 dinosaur footprints by lunch

  1. Tracy Ellig says:

    This is an incredible post. Imagine how strange it would be to excavate this site in another 67 million years. In one layer you’d find plastic body parts, in another layer dinosaur footprints.

    So are such footprints rare?

    From Merriam-Webster online:
    Main Entry: the·ro·pod
    Pronunciation: \ˈthir-ə-ˌpäd\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: New Latin Theropoda, from Greek thēr wild animal + pod-, pous foot — more at fierce, foot
    Date: circa 1891
    : any of a suborder (Theropoda) of carnivorous bipedal saurischian dinosaurs (as a tyrannosaur or velociraptor) usually having small forelimbs

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