Unsuspecting diner discovers dinosaur footprints in Chinese restaurant

The tracks were made by sauropods.
Loukia Papadopoulos
dinosaur footprint.jpg
A dinosaur footprintpiola666/iStock

Imagine you go out for a nice meal only to notice something strange in your restaurant’s courtyard. This is what happened to an unsuspecting diner in China, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Impressions from 100 million years ago

After a report from a customer of strange prints on the restaurant’s floor, Chinese paleontologists were brought in to investigate, and they confirmed that the depressions had, in fact, been left by two dinosaurs about 100 million years ago.

The researchers further determined that the tracks were made by sauropods. Lida Xing, a paleontologist at the China University of Geosciences who led the team, told The Washington Post the prints were probably made by the species Titanosauriformes.

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

Unsuspecting diner discovers dinosaur footprints in Chinese restaurant
An illustration of a sauropod.
Elenarts108/iStock

Xing's team further confirmed the discovery on Saturday using a 3D scanner. They estimated that the prehistoric animals probably measured about 8 meters (26 feet) in body length.

Visiting potential sites within 24 hours

The researchers have a protocol where they visit sites of potential discoveries within 48 hours of receiving a report fearing they "may get destroyed by construction work in days."

These particular footprints were well preserved because before it was a restaurant, the location was used as a chicken farm that provided layers of dirt and sand to bury the prints and shield them from erosion and weather damage.

All that dirt was only removed a year ago, exposing the pristine footprints underneath. Luckily the restaurant owner liked the look of the natural floor and did not cover it with cement, a process that would have seen the footprints forever lost.

The discovery, however, did not bode well with the restaurant owner. She was worried that news of the find would affect her business serving homestyle meals based on local cuisine. However, she has since changed her mind and welcomed the media hype, which may just bring more customers to her dinner. She even began preparing some meals in celebration of the find.

“She was initially concerned that she would attract a lot of curious people and affect the restaurant’s traditional customers,” Xing wrote. “But now she understands the change and is ready to roll out some dinosaur track-themed treats.”

Just this week, a Jurassic marine world was discovered in England.

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