China was probably the first country in the world to collect dinosaur fossils, a scientist has said.
"The Yue Kingdom in today's southeastern China had dinosaur fossils in 494 B.C.," said Sun Erhu, a research fellow with the Chengdu Institute of Biology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In that year, the invading Wu Kingdom sieged Yue Kingdom's capital Kuaiji and captured a "mammoth skeleton" that had to be carried with a cart, according to "Shi Ji", or Historical Records, compiled by famous Chinese historian Sima Qian.
"I bet the skeleton was actually a dinosaur fossil," Sun said after years of research. "The kingdom of Wu thought it was priceless and asked the most knowledgeable people to evaluate it."
Sun said he read about such "mammoth skeletons" in earlier historical documents, too, and guessed these were the world's earliest collections of dinosaur fossils. "Most of them were captured during wars and were collected by the kings as treasures."