Local residents of Shenmu County in China's Shaanxi Province consider a mountain cliff named "Dragon Head" to be a mysterious forbidden place due to some huge footprints of unknown origin. They believe those footprints are the traces of their ancestors or even some gods from Heaven.
Along with the addition of various fictional details, the story of those footprints began spreading to others, and finally caught the attention of reporters, archaeologists and other experts. After careful investigation, they eventually were able to unlock the true story.
Huge footprints on the cliff
Local legends surrounding the footprints started back in 1967, when a man surnamed Qiao went to quarry some stones around his village. When he raised a piece of stone on a cliff, he found a pit in the shape of footprint. Then, he called his neighbors to clean all the stones on the cliff, and they found a line of footprints heading to the edge of the cliff. The scene totally shocked Qiao and his neighbors, and the stories of those special footprints started spreading after that.
Each of the footprints is about 40-centimeter-long, which is much longer than normal people's feet. And if those footprints belonged to a human, then they would be as tall as three meters according to the normal ratio of height and length of feet.
Then who left those footprints anyway? And have any similar situations happened before?
Various theories emerge
Since some footprints that may be linked to a Bigfoot-like monster of legend were found in the Shennongjia region in China's Hubei Province, investigators thought these footprints might have been made by something similar.
However, after checking books, investigators found the biggest footprint found in Shennongjia region is just about 30 centimeters, which is much smaller than these. Clearly, the footprints in the two different places do not belong to the same kind of creature.
Considering the footprints are embedded in the stone, they must be ancient.
Investors found although the footprint is very big, the distances between them is quite small and not seems like steps of a three-meter-high human being's steps.
Since the footprints disappear at the edge of the cliff, investors thought perhaps the "giant creature" jumped down. But they found no remains at the bottom of the cliff but only a piece of stone that is exactly like the one on the cliff.
In order to determine the creator of those mysterious footprints, investigators took an expert from the Archaeological Institute of Shaanxi Province to the place, and she believed those footprints are very much similar with some animal's they had found before.
Then it might be possible that those footprints belonged to some ancient giant ape.
However, experts said the suitable living conditions for ancient apes to live here appeared about 0.15 billion years ago but not 6 million years ago when ancient apes lived on this planet.
After evaluating the period of the stone layers of those footprints, experts figured they were left by some creature that lived more than 0.1 billion years ago when the planet was ruled by giant dinosaurs.
Archaeologists determined that the place was a piece of wetland, and a dinosaur went through the place and left its footprints. While accidentally, those huge footprints were covered and protected through so many years and finally became fossils of today.
Science and Technology Daily contributed to the story.