Monday, July 29, 2013

Dinosaurs in Cambodia?

I have heard many bizarre theories in my travels and encounters with various people. Many years ago, I remember watching some cryptozoology program that claimed there was archaeological proof of man's confrontations with modern day dinosaurs. This idea bounces around a lot with monster hunters and new-world creationists alike, who hope that somehow humans and dinosaurs co-existed. Often cited in these arguments is a shallow relief hidden away in the crumbling walls of a temple in Cambodia.
While I was there, I managed to look at this carving. Nestled at the back of Ta Prohm is certainly an intriguing carving. But is it really a dinosaur? There are interesting arguments, especially when you consider how much it looks like some weird blend of a stegosaurus and triceratops, both species discovered after these carvings were made.
I will admit a bit of surprise and confusion when I first witnessed this carving. It brought up a lot of questions for my inquisitive mind. But the next day, as I endured the heat and crawled through a far more ruined remains of another temple, deeper in the Cambodian jungle, I found yet another carving. Though the temple was in far worse shape, the carvings were much clearer.
This was when I was able to put the pieces together. What is often not shown in these programs and arguments, are the carvings that surround the odd image of the "dinosaur". When you look at the other carvings you can easily distinguish that these are carvings of animals, and in the case of the mysterious carving, they are animals standing in front of plants. What appears to be the plates of a stegosaurus are really the fronds of a large palm. And those animals? They are actually the Chinese zodiac. Each animal of the zodiac are depicted, and as you go through the list, what is missing? The rat (my own zodiac humorously enough). When you look at the clearer carving from the second temple it is much more apparent.
So here you go everyone. The proof surrounding the mystery of the dinosaur carving of Cambodia. Other's claim a living dinosaur, I smell a rat.
On the left is the "dinosaur" carving, on the right is the clearer rat without the plants behind it.
Photograph copyright Jeff Powers © 2013

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