Chinese paleontologists are searching an ancient imperial resort in North China for dinosaur footprint fossils.
A China University of Geosciences team led by Associate Professor Xing Lida will start looking Wednesday in the Hebei Province city of Chengde for footprints that he first learned about in a document 26 years ago.
In 1992, Harvard University Professor Richard Forman reportedly found prints on a paving stone close to Rehe Spring in the mountain resort. There are "more than 30 footprints of dinosaurs and birds," according to a city cultural relics bureau staff member. She refused to be fully named.
The staff member was one of a handful who saw the original paving stones in 1992, but no one knows where the stones were taken after that.
"Something ordinary people may consider common could be extraordinary fossils," Xing told the Global Times. "It's a pity that no further investigation was ever conducted on those footprints in the past decades."
This is not the only dinosaur-related finding in the city. In 1993, more than 80 dinosaur footprints were found in Luanping county, Chengde.
Scientists said those footprints were from 130 million years ago, news portal hebnews.cn reported in 2011.
Some prints were damaged by weather and inadequate protection, hebnews.cn reported in 2011. Some were cut out and taken away.
Geological layers of the Jurassic period are well-distributed in northern Hebei Province, where Chengde is located, according to a 2016 academic paper.
Chengde Mountain Resort, the largest imperial park in the world, was constructed in 1703, and served as a summer retreat for Qing Dynasty emperors. Emperor Qianlong (1736-95) met the sixth Panchen Lama as well as guests and diplomats from overseas at the palace.