Paleontologists have confirmed that marks noticed by a diner in the yard of a restaurant in southwest China's Sichuan Province are dinosaur footprints dating back to the early Cretaceous period.
On July 10, Ou Hongtao was dining in a restaurant in the city of Leshan and noticed some special dents on the ground in the yard of the restaurant.
Ou, who has a great interest in paleontology, speculated that the marks were probably dinosaur footprints and contacted Xing Lida, associate professor with the China University of Geosciences, that evening.
On July 16, Xing led a team of fellow paleontologists and conducted an investigation at the site. The marks were later identified as the tracks of two brontosauruses in the early Cretaceous period.
According to Xing, the discovery is significant in that it is the first time dinosaur footprints have been found in Leshan's city proper.
The marks are the tracks left by two eight-meter-long sauropod dinosaurs, which moved along the river in the arid environment of ancient Leshan about 100 million years ago. This set of sediments was also the basis for the Giant Buddha of Leshan, the world's largest stone Buddha statue, which is just 5 km away, Xing added.