Stegosaurus Carving In Ta Prohm :
At Ta Prohm, near Angkor Wat and built by the epic builder king Jayavarman VII in the late 1100’s, a small carving on a crumbling temple wall seems to show a dinosaur – a Stegosaurus carving, to be exact. The hand-sized carving can be found in a quiet corner of the complex, a stone temple engulfed in jungle vegetation where the roots of centuries-old banyan trees snake through broken walls.
After parts of Tomb Raider were shot here, the temple got a PR lift and has become one of the site’s top tourist draws. But many of the package tours are still ushered in and out without spotting the enigmatic Stegosaurus carving.
Several different theories have been advanced to explain its presence. Some maintain it’s a recently-carved hoax, while others say that the ancient Khmers could have unearthed a fossil and figured out what kind of creature it belonged to. One theory has it that the image actually shows a cow or rhino with a palm tree in the background – the palm’s fronds being easily mistaken for the fin-like blades running down a Stegasaurus’ back.
Or maybe the carving is evidence that dinosaurs really did live on until much later than previously thought. (Creationists would certainly like to believe so). Perhaps here in the humid, ancient jungles of Southeast Asia, where the climate has remained largely unchanged since the dinosaurs’ days, giant reptiles lived on well into the human era, long enough to persist in the Khmer folk-memory. If only these walls could talk, we might have a clue.
News of dinosaur bones found in Asia shouldn’t come as a surprise. In 2014, news circled around the globe of dinosaur fossils found in Malaysia. The country is best known for being in the tropical portion of the world and is more renowned for the Petronas Towers than being the once home of prehistoric animals. However, scientists did find a bipedal creature in the area that looked like a Tyrannosaurus but one that had a snout like a crocodile.
Given that fact, it’s not so far a stretch to assume that dinosaurs may have walked other Southeast Asian countries like, say Cambodia, perhaps? That’s exactly what creationists Don Patton, Carl Baugh and some of their associates want to argue. That the Ta Prohm Dinosaur is the real deal.
In their defense, the animal in the carving in the Ta Prohm Temple does at one glance look like a Stegosaurus. And who wouldn’t love the idea of that kind of creature walking around and sharing the same space as humans, right? Anyone who loved The Land Before Time as a child would surely love the idea of a real-life Spike that walked the ancient Khmer Empire.
Ta Prohm Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
View more photos of Ta Prohm temple here.