World’s Largest Dinosaur Site Uncovered in China
According to news sources, Chinese scientists had recovered some 7,600 fossils from a 300-meter (980 ft) long pit near Zhucheng city over the past seven months. The finds are extraordinary and include the remains of a 20-meter (about 70 feet) Hadrosaurus, which could be a record size for the duck-billed dinosaur and is currently on display in the local museum. Scientists are optimistic that there are more fossils to be recovered and are expected to perform future excavations next spring.
Known locally as China's “Dinosaur City,” archaeologists in Zhucheng have unearthed dinosaur fossils in some 30 different sites since 1960. Scientists have collected more than 50 metric tons (55 short tons) of fossils since that time and locals have been known to use the abundant calcium rich fossils for traditional village remedies for muscle cramps and other minor ailments. Exploration has greatly increased in the last few years and rare fossils are found regularly, but the problem is that they are also smuggled out of China just as regularly and sold for large sums of money.
Exactly why the area has so many dinosaur remains has never been clearly established, but scientists do believe that a volcanic eruption may have killed the
dinosaurs, and a subsequent flood carried the fossils to Zhucheng, which may have originally been a wetland area covered in grass. In January of last year, Australia returned hundreds of kilograms of Chinese dinosaur fossils, including dinosaur fossil eggs. These fossils were recovered during a sting operation carried out on warehouses and cargo containers. On December 31, 2008, scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced that they have unearthed 7,600 dinosaur fossils since March 2008 around Zhucheng. This group of fossils is currently the largest ever discovered anywhere in the world.
Only the passage of time will reveal the secrets of the age of the dinosaurs, but it seems evident that many unspoken truths lay in China’s heartland.
M Dee Dubroff