Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Giants Collide

Myth and legend intersect with a published essay about ancient dinosaur tracks in Tibet. In 1999 giant, human shaped footprints were uncovered at a construction site.

Local residents celebrated what they believed to be the discovery of ancient traces left by the legendary figure King Gesar, the hero of an epic poem at the heart of Tibetan history.

Two paleontologists, however, believe they are prints left by an enormous dinosaur about 150 million years ago, probably an Apatosaurus, a 23 metre, 23 tonne monster of the Jurassic era.

One of the scholars said the Gesar epic is captured in "folk tales, legends, folk songs and proverbs," from the mountainous, semi-autonomous region of China.

"It has been passed down orally and musically from one generation to the next," he said. "Even today, the epic is still widespread among the Tibetan people, especially among farmers and herdsmen."

Either 'giant' provides a fascinating perspective.

Image of an Apatosaurus at the Carnegie Museum.