If you need an excuse to head to brunch this weekend, allow yourself to think about the potential for French toast to expand discovery and scientific research.
Earlier this month, a committed patron at a restaurant in southwest China discovered a collection of footprints in the stone floor of the courtyard where they were dining.
After calling in the relevant authorities for monitoring and identification, paleontologists at the scene discovered a new set of footprints, which they say belonged to two dinosaurs that walked the planet about 100 million years ago.
Paleontologist Dr. Lida Xing was one of the experts who were called to investigate. He told CNN that his team used a 3D scanner to make sure the sauropods left fingerprints.
Sauropods were plant eaters with small heads, long necks, and tails, and were feral.
“All of these dinosaurs came out of eggs that were about the size of a grapefruit. So it was kind of like popcorn for the carnivores of its day,” said Riley Black, a paleontologist and science writer.
“Their whole game plan, evolutionarily speaking, was to eat a whole bunch of plants and grow as fast as they could.”
And while the time sauropods could walk on land has long passed, this discovery marks an exciting time for paleontological research.
“I would say that right now, China, especially in terms of dinosaur footprints, is experiencing a fossil renaissance. A lot of new and exciting sites are being discovered,” said Scott Pearsons, a paleontologist at the College of Charleston. He worked with the Chinese scientists who made this discovery, although he was not involved in this particular discovery.
“I have to say, I’ve never been to a restaurant to find dinosaur tracks,” people said.
That kind of encounter can serve as a reminder that fossil remains are still all around us, Black said.
“Even sometimes when I walk a tour of Salt Lake City, a lot of the sidewalks we have there are made of early Jurassic sandstone. I haven’t seen a dinosaur there yet, but you’ll see little footprints that were made by protomammals, scorpions, and spiders crawling in All over these dunes. So there’s really a whole kind of urban paleontology in there.”
While fossil footprints may not seem quite as dramatic as finding bones, they do allow paleontologists a unique look at how dinosaurs lived.
“Tracks are fossilized behaviour,” Black said. “This is the movement of a living animal. And usually the tracks are some of the only evidence we have of dinosaur social behavior.”
Black added that sauropods had to constantly eat to maintain their size – so their behavior in this case may have involved them chewing their way through their green, lush world.
In other words, there is a possibility that they ate breakfast and lunch as well.
This story has been adapted for the web by Manuela López Restrepo
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