Park brings age of dinosaurs to life

Updated: 2015-05-04 10:00

By Erik Nilsson(China Daily)

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Park brings age of dinosaurs to life

Excavated skeletons of dinosaurs at China's Jurassic Park-Yunnan's Lufeng Dinosaur Valley outside Kunming. [Photo provided to China Daily]

It's perhaps the only place in China-maybe the world-where dinosaurs declare they're snapping shots of you while you squat over toilets.

Bathroom stalls' inside doors are plastered with paintings of tyrannosaurs bursting through walls, clasping cameras in stunted arms and declaring via word bubble: "Ha! Ha! I'm taking your photo."

Conceivably disconcerting. Certainly surreal.

Welcome to China's Jurassic Park-Yunnan's Lufeng Dinosaur Valley outside the provincial capital, Kunming.

Of course, the location didn't earn its namesake from its restroom "art".

Rather, it hails from the fact the place is a graveyard of epochs past, where skeletons of dozens of dinos are interred-their bones jabbing from the earth-and excavated skeletons dangle from high ceilings to clomp through the air in freeze-frame. That's not to mention contemporary statues of terrible lizards slinking through forests.

The stars here are Lufengosaurs, which take their names from the site of their discovery, and dozens of later skeletons.

These occasionally bipedal prosauropods were plant-eaters, yet flaunted vicious claws, with a superbly menacing thumb that seemingly makes them the early Jurassic's most vicious thumb-war champs.

In the unlikely event they'd lose a match, they could jab opponents' jugulars with their jutting digits and take out their opponents with their talons.

The creatures stretched 5 to 10 meters long and stood 3 meters high.

The supersized species, Lufengasaurus magnus, averaged 8.5 meters long and 4.5 meters tall.

Lufeng's soil also spits out fossils of China's oldest crocodiles, lizards and mammals.

Viewers can walk above fossil-studded earth that signage calls the Lufeng Dinosaur Quarry.

The creatures' corpses strike poses. They rear up, skulk and seem to try to dig themselves out of the slopes with colossal claws.

Dilophosaurs with double head-crests crawl out of the dust alongside 27-meter-long chuanjiesaurs.

Visitors atop observation walkways watch paleontologists scraping bones out of stones.

They can also view dino statues from aboard rafts that bob through the park and pass by the Jurassic Waterfall, conquer the "water obstacle course" or ride the Dinosaur Carnival's roller coasters, zip lines and merry-go-rounds.

Departing visitors may notice that the exteriors of traditional homes in the surrounding village are painted with dinosaur murals.

These at least don't declare they'll snap your photo during your most private moments.

Instead, they proclaim that hundreds of millions of years of natural history continue to inform Lufeng's contemporary culture-even beyond the modern park established to hone this history.