The story of how the Chinese villagers ate a dinosaur for 20 years

Villagers in central China dug up a ton of dinosaur bones and boiled them in soup or ground them into powder for traditional medicine, believing they were from flying dragons and had healing powers.

For many years, Chinese peasants fed sick children soup made from the bones of the “flying dragon”. The soup was sold at the market for 4 yuan per kilogram. Having figured out who actually owned the bones, scientists were horrified and made a sensational statement.

Residents of a Chinese village in the central province of Henan accidentally stumbled upon the bones of a large animal in the ground.

The peasants thought that these were the remains of a flying dragon, which had a healing effect. For more than 20 years they dug up the bones and used them in accordance with the recipes of ancient Chinese medicine.

The scientists were not too interested in the finds of the inhabitants of the province. Paleontologists thought that this “dragon” could not be a dinosaur, since the soil in which the fossils were found formed 65 million years ago in the Cenozoic era, when these fossils had already become extinct.

Locals cooked calcium-rich “dragon bones” soup and fed it to children suffering from leg cramps and dizziness. Also, the remains were used for external use: they were ground into powder and applied to fractures and other wounds. “Healing” ancient fossils could be bought for 4 yuan per kilogram.

Scientists from the Geological Museum of Henan Province and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences decided to change the saboteurs and began excavations on their own.

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The data obtained was analyzed by 30 scientists from China, Japan, the USA, Great Britain and Germany, who came to the conclusion that they were dealing with an important discovery.

It turned out that the remains really belong to a dinosaur – an 18-meter herbivorous sauropod that lived 85-100 million years ago in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era. The fossil had an unusually large cavity that houses the digestive tract.

When the locals learned that the remains belonged to a dinosaur, they handed over to scientists for further research about 200 kilograms of bones that they had not yet eaten.

In China, at a special conference, for the first time, a unique find was officially announced. Those who wished were shown the bones of a dinosaur, and a model of an ancient animal in real scale.

The width of the sacrum of the found dinosaur (the lower part of the spine, to which the pelvic bones are attached) is 1.31 meters (4.3 ft). This is wider than that of a dinosaur whose remains were discovered earlier in Gansu province. According to scientists, the Henan sauropod is the heaviest dinosaur ever found in Asia.

Dong, a professor with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said when the villagers found out the bones were from dinosaurs they donated 200 kilograms to him and his colleagues for research.

“They had believed that the ‘dragon bones’ were from the dragons flying in the sky,” he said.

“The calcium-rich bones were sometimes boiled with other ingredients and fed to children as a treatment for dizziness and leg cramps. Other times they were ground up and made into a paste that was applied directly to fractures and other injuries,” professor said.

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“The practice had been going on for at least two decades,” he said.


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