Thailand boasts some of the finest Mesozoic trackways from five endemic dinosaur species.
Since 1976, the Department of Mineral Resources with Thai-French Paleontological Project had continuously investigated the dinosaurs in the Phu Wiang mountains. The project found so many vertebrae, teeth, and footprints of the dinosaurs mainly from the sandstones of the Early Cretaceous Sao Khua Formation (about 130 million years old). These include sauropods and theropods ranging in size from adorable chickens to beasties up to 15 meters long.
The Thai dinosaur record from the continental rocks of the Khorat Plateau is the best in Southeast Asia. The oldest footprints are those from small dinosaurs from the Middle to Late Jurassic Phra Wihan Formation. The most varied dinosaur assemblages come from the Late Jurassic Sao Khua Formation. Here we see the sauropods dominate the fossil beds interspersed with a variety of theropods. Large theropod footprints are known from the Early Cretaceous Phu Phan Formation. Theropods and the primitive ceratopsian Psittacosaurus occur in the Aptian-Albian Khok Kruat Formation. We find dinosaur material further north along the Mekong River region of Laos. Thai fossils show a close relationship to those found in China and Mongolia.
If you'd like to go visit them, there is a rather nice display at the Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum in the newly established Wiang Kao district about 80 kilometres to the west of the provincial capital of Khon Kaen. They have several species on display, including: Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae, Siamosaurus suteethorni, Siamotyrannus isanensis, Kinnareemimus khonkaenensis, Compsognathus (awe, a wee vicious chicken...) and, of course, the Phu Wiang dinosaur footprints.
If you'd like to visit Kalasin Dinosaur Park, follow route 227 towards Lam Pao Dam and Dok Ket Beach. Instead of turning left towards the dam, continue up towards Sirindhorn Dinosaur Museum. You'll see it on your left about 5km before the museum. For some GPS help, pop this into Google Maps: Dinosaur Park, Ni Khom, Sahatsakhan District, Kalasin 46140, Thailand.
- Ingavat, R., Janvier, R., and Taquet, P. (1978) Decouverte en Thailande d'une portion de femur de dinosaure sauropode (Saurischia, Reptilia). C.R. Soc.Geol.France 3: 140-141
- Wickanet Songtham and Benja Sektheera (2006) Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae Bangkok: Department of Mineral Resources: 100 pages
- Buffetaut, E., Suteethorn, V., and Tong, H. (2009) An earliest 'ostrich dinosaur' (Theropoda: Ornithomosauria) from the Early Cretaceous Sao Khua Formation of NE Thailand, pp. 229-243, in E. Buffetaut, G. Cuny, J. Le Loeuff, and V. Suteethorn (eds.), Late Palaeozoic and Mesozoic Ecosystem in SE Asia. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 315.