Credit by The carving location ©
The Dinosaur of the Ancient Temple of Ta Prohm, Cambodia
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The Dinosaur of the Ancient Temple of Ta Prohm, Cambodia

The magnificent jungle temples of Cambodia were produced by the Khmer civilization, beginning as early as the eighth and extending through the fourteenth century A.D. One of, if not the greatest monarchs and monument builders of this empire was Jayavarman VII, crowned supreme king in 1181. Portrait statues, depicting him meditating in the fashion of Buddha, have been found throughout the region. 

He also built the beautiful temple monastery Ta Prohm in honor of his mother, dedicating it in 1186. These awesome temples were rediscovered by Portuguese adventurers and Catholic missionaries in the 16th century and many were restored in 19th and 20th centuries. Ta Prohm, one of the most picturesque, was left in it's natural state. It recently gained international attention as the setting for the first Laura Croft movie.

Ta Prohm in 1908 |
Ta Prohm in 1908 |

At the corner formed by the elaborate front entrance and the front wall is a ten-foot column covered with these decorative circles. Ta Prohm abounds with stone statues and reliefs. Almost every square inch of the gray sandstone is covered with ornate carvings. Hundreds of decorative stone circles surround familiar animals, such as monkeys, deer, water buffalo, parrots.  There's one thing that captures global attention. One of the relief at Ta Prohm, a small carving on a crumbling temple wall seems to show a dinosaur - a stegosaurus, to be exact. The hand-sized carving can be found in a quiet corner of the complex. 


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.

Source :
Source :

Or maybe the carving is evidence that dinosaurs really did live on until much later than previously thought. 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. 

We can be certain that it is not a representation of a living Stegosaurus, but could it be a more recent attempt at depicting a dinosaur? Indeed, it is quite possible that this carving has been fabricated. There are many sculptures at the temple, and the origin of the carving in question is unknown. There are rumors that it was created recently, perhaps by a visiting movie crew (the temple is a favorite locale for filmmakers), and it is possible that someone created something Stegosaurus-like during the past few years as a joke.

Source : Atlas Obscura | Smithsonian Magazine |

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