By Tenzin Sangmo
DHARAMSHALA, August 29: Paleontologists from China have set out on a two-week expedition in Tibet on Monday to study the recently discovered dinosaur footprints in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
The renowned "Big Footprint" found on a cliff in Chamdo, a prefecture-level city in TAR has attracted thousands of tourists.
Xing Lida, a dinosaur footprint expert at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and his research team are undertaking the expedition with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) whose members reportedly found the footprints last year.
Scientists say dinosaurs once lived on the world's highest Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Science and Technology Daily in February reported that Deng Tao from CAS's Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology proved that dinosaurs once lived in the southeastern part of Tibet.
In the paper "First record of dinosaur trackway from Tibet, China" that Lida co-authored in 2011 with Philip J. Currie and Jerry Harris, it says the Tibetan Scientific Expedition Team of CAS discovered a large quantity of early and middle Jurassic dinosaur fossils in Chamdo (Qamdo) Prefecture in the 1970s, but these specimens have never been published.
It is stated that during the construction of the State Highway No.214 in the same area in 1999, at least eight pairs of huge footprints were discovered when workers used explosives, the largest footprint being 1.7 meters long.
After visiting the "Big Footprint," Xing said it was likely left by a brontosaurus, which lived during the early to middle Jurassic Period.
The dinosaur footprint expert also found abundant cracks and ripples near the footprints, suggesting Tibet’s geography was very different at the time of dinosaurs.
“Although affectionately known as "the roof of the world", with some of the globe's highest mountainous peaks, Tibet was once the bottom of a prehistoric sea.”