Eating Dinosaurs

The bones were thought to have been those of flying dragons, so villagers in the Henan province of central China excavated something like a ton's worth of them, during the past two decades, for use in medicines. Often, the bones were boiled into consumable mixtures for youngsters, to treat leg cramps and dizziness. In other cases, calcium-rich bones were ground up for use in medicinal pastes.

As late as 2006, these "dragon bones" were sold for approximately four yuan a kilogram (roughly equivalent to 25 cents a pound).

Scientists showed up recently and told the residents what the bones really were — fossilized bones from dinosaurs. The villagers soon contributed 440 pounds of fossils to the scientists' efforts.

Professor Dong Zhiming, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was one member of a team that recently dug up, in Henan, remains of a 60-foot-long herbivorous dinosaur that had lived somewhere between 85 million to 100 million years ago. These and other fossils they unearthed in Ruyang County were exhibited on July 3, 2007, at a press conference.

National Geographic Science Editor Rick Gore has referred to Dong as "China's Mr. Dinosaur" because of the numerous fossils he has found over more than four decades, so many that attention has again focused on China as one of the best places to study dinosaurs.

The "edible" paleontological artifacts did not go without online comment. In his blog The Flying Trilobite, Toronto-based artist Glendon Mellow finds Dong Zhiming's persuasive powers to be "truly awesome" in that he actually got villagers to stop eating dinosaurs once they knew what they were consuming. Mellow, whose art riffs on evolution, recommends: "Someone please, please, fly this man to a certain 'museum' in Kentucky!"

— Douglas Chapman


Yahoo! Canada (from Associated Press),, 7/4/07

The Flying Trilobite — The Art & Musings of Glendon Mellow,, 7/4/07

Martin Williams, "Unearthing China's Real Dragons," Asian Reader's Digest, January 1997 (as reprinted at,

Dong Zhiming — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,

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