A sharp-eyed customer dining at a restaurant in Leshan in China’s Sichuan province has helped to discover 100 million-year-old dinosaur footprints at the location.
Ou Hongtao first noticed the strange pits in the courtyard of the gardening and forest themed restaurant on July 10.
Due to his work with stone materials and interest in paleontology, he suspected they were dinosaur prints and contacted Xing Lida, a professor of geosciences, to investigate further.
Xing, an associate professor at the China University of Geosciences, and Peng Guangzhao, an expert from the Zigong Dinosaur Museum, then used drone videography and 3D scanning to confirm the discovery.
They found at least six, eight-meter fossil footprints of two brontosauruses from the Cretaceous period.
A part of the Sauropod group of dinosaurs, the brontosaurus – also known as “thunder lizards” – were the largest animals to walk the Earth and are known for their very long necks and tails, four-legged stance and herbivore diet.
The site had previously been a chicken farm and the footprints had been buried in layers of dirt and sand before it was renovated into a restaurant just a year ago.
“These footprints were well protected,” Xing said. “When we went there, we found that the footprints were very deep and quite obvious.”
Xing and Peng announced the discovery on Saturday July 16.
This is the first time dinosaur tracks have ever been found in Leshan.
Xing said the discovery adds a piece of evidence to Sichuan’s Cretaceous period and the diversity of dinosaurs.
The find will provide new information about the paleo-environment and ecology during the time and lay the tracks for finding more dinosaur fossils in the area, he added.