When the rains come and the rivers swell, giant bones tend to wash up in this remote rice-farming corner of Thailand.
Giant tyrannosaur footprints were found in Baan Na Kum. For years, farmers did not know what they were or what to do with them.
The superstitious buried them. Others brought them to Buddhist temples, where monks collected them alongside artifacts and other curios.
Now the message is out: Don’t throw away the dinosaur bones.
“It used to be a taboo — people didn’t want to bring them home,” said Varavudh Suteethorn, a paleontologist who has spent the last three decades leading dinosaur excavations. “After we worked for about 10 years in the area, people started to know more about it.”
Thailand is known for its beaches, great food and, more recently, its propensity for political protests, but not much for dinosaurs. It turns out that the creatures of prehistory, like the tourists of today, found certain parts of Thailand very hospitable.
Paleontologists say that the Khorat Plateau of northeastern Thailand was teeming with dinosaurs starting about 200 million years ago (Bangkok was under the sea at the time), and that the proof is in the frequency with which villagers find dinosaur bones and other fossils.
“Sometimes we discover three or four new sites with dinosaur bones in a single month,” said Preechit Phulanpree, an assistant geologist at a local dinosaur museum who was making a plaster cast of a recent discovery. “Usually we find the bones stuck in a riverbank.”