Zhucheng — Mega-sized Dinosaur Pit!!!

Monday, 29 October 2012 –  Today I set out to see the largest dinosaur pit in the world.

It was not easy to find.

First, I flew from Bejing to Qingdao, where a friend of a friend picked me up at the airport and drove me an hour and a half to the city of Zhucheng, then out into the middle of nowhere.

Even with a GPS, my host, Pan, had to ask for directions.Several times.The good news was that they were all pointing in the same direction. The bad news was that village roads are not on the radar. We were close, but not yet there, so it was time for lunch. I had no idea we were stopping to eat until I was asked to “xia che” (get out of the car) and stepped inside a house where it smelled delicious. There was no sign that said “restaurant,” or “café” or “Pizza 99-cents,” or anything. Only the farmers knew it was there and pointed Pan to it when he stopped for directions.

This is how to eat like a villager:

1. As soon as you walk in, you pick your fish from a freezer on your left.2. Then you pick four vegetables from a table on your right. 3. The chef comes out to talk to you and makes suggestions. I didn’t understand his Shandong hua (dialect), but I’m pretty sure that’s what he said. You can kind of figure it out. He was very nice.4. When you sit down, wash your cups, bowls, plates and chopsticks with scalding hot tea. The poor sanitary conditions in villages can make you very sick. I was nervous about eating there, but when the food came out … It looked and smelled SOOO good, I threw all caution to the dinosaur dust and ate with abandon. It was one of the BEST meals I’ve ever had in China!!! Mmmm! Thank you, Pan!

After that, I was ready to see the dinosaur pit.So many dinosaurs died here that they’ve stopped pulling them out of the earth so that you can see them just as they are. The signs all say that it’s the largest dinosaur pit in the world. There were other signs showing plans for two more pits of the same size, joined to form a horseshoe. It’s very cool.

And eerie.

Except for the teeny, little dog at the bottom of the pit who was guarding all the bones and who growled like a ferocious lion at me before coming over to inspect my bones!When you’re an author, sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy the moment, even when you’re standing at the bottom of the bottom of a bottomless pit.

Coming out of the bottom of the pit and walking back toward the entrance, you can see that the building is nothing but a roof built on top of the pit. It’s so long I couldn’t get it all in the photo:The first bones were discovered in 1822, according to a plaque inside the pit, and local villagers were grinding the bones for medicinal uses for decades. The Internet says the pit was discovered in 1960, and paleontologists from around the world are still working on it today.

Some of the skeletons have been reassembled and are on display in another building next to the pit:  In another geological age, I would be prey.

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