A team of Chinese and American scientists have discovered the world's only evidence of co-existing human beings and dinosaur tracks in a remote county in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, according to a paper published Saturday in the Geological Bulletin of China, a Chinese core academic journal.
Qijiang County's Lianhua Baozhai, which means "Lotus Mountain Fortress" in Chinese, has a large number of dinosaur tracks as well as a well-preserved fortress and historical epigraph, forming a direct line of evidence that ancient Chinese people built a residence and lived there for a long time, said Xing Lida, one of three researchers with the project as well as a doctoral degree candidate with the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Alberta in Canada.
Chinese people could have lived here for more than 700 years, and the mud cracks, ripple marks and duck-billed dinosaur tracks were considered by them to be lotus leaf veins, water environment and lotus, respectively, which is why they named it the Lotus Mountain Fortress, Xing Lida told Xinhua.
"Research shows that dinosaur tracks impacted ancient Chinese place names and folklore, so place names and folklore can be major clues for us in tracing dinosaur tracks," Xing said.
According to the paper, the Lotus Mountain Fortress dinosaur tracks, the largest track group of cretaceous dinosaurs in southwestern China, contains 350 to 400 footprints that had been preserved in many ways, including concave footprints, convex footprints and multilayered footprints.
"We found a lot of interesting relics that had been associated with lotus by local residents. The ripple marks, mud cracks and duck-billed dinosaur tracks had created a picture of a lotus field, and lead to the folklore of 'booming golden lotus from the earth,'" he said.
Chen Yu, another researcher with the project as well as an archaeologist with the Capital Museum in Beijing, said the region had been a transport hub for China and other Asian countries, where Buddhism thrived.
"The religion has a special worship towards lotus, which symbolizes peace and quiet. This is another reason for the residents to name the place for the flower, seeking blessing from the Buddha," Chen said.
Qijiang County was located in what, historically, was a frontier area, and had endured wars at that time. The Lotus Mountain Fortress had been a safe hiding place since the Han Dynasty (202 BC- 220 AD), according to the epigraphy of various dynasties, she said.
Adrienne Mayor, the third researcher with the project as well as a historian of ancient science and a classical folklorist with Stanford University in the United States, said the case of the Lotus Mountain Fortress proves that dinosaur tracks had impacted ancient Chinese folklore, which could provide clues for seeking other tracks.
The fortress' 700 years of history is a rarity in the world, and reflects China's traditional philosophy of the relationship between humans and nature, she said. (Xinhua)