THERE ARE EXPLORERS who believe in the possibility that some dinosaurs somehow survived extinction 60 million years ago and continue to live in isolated, largely unexplored areas of African rain forest. The only evidence for their existence, however, are stories told by natives of the region who claim to have seen such fantastic creatures. Perhaps new expeditions to these remote areas will someday find better, harder evidence, if there's any to be found.
But what if there were already better evidence that at least some dinosaurs had survived long enough to coexist with humans? Evidence better than just stories. What if early humans had actually etched pictures of dinosaurs on rock faces. That would constitute pretty good proof, wouldn't it?
Such rocks exist. Known collectively as the Ica Stones (they are found in Ica, Peru), these rocks, varying in size from that of a baseball to twice that of a basketball, are hand-etched with pictures of primitive fish, dinosaurs and Indians using what appear to be tools of advanced technology. The problem is, the age of these rocks cannot be verified. But they are intriguing, and they have delighted tourists and mystified researchers for decades.
Where Did They Come From?
The Ica Stones first came to the attention of the scientific community in 1966 when Dr. Javier Cabrera, a local physician, received a small, carved rock for his birthday from a poor native. The carving on the rock looked ancient to Dr. Cabrera, but intrigued him because it seemed to depict a primitive fish. Hearing that the doctor was interested in the stone, local natives began to bring him more, which they collected from a river bank (not far from the famous Nazca lines). This soon developed into a vast collection of more than 15,000 stones, many etched with impossible scenes. Whereas it might be difficult to prove that the fish represented a long-extinct species, as Dr. Cabrera thought, other scenes carved on other stones are not so ambiguous. They clearly depict such dinosaurs as triceratops, stegosaurus, apatosaurus and human figures riding on the backs of flying pterodactyls. What's more, some of the scenes are of men hunting and killing dinosaurs. Others show men watching the heavens through what look like telescopes, performing open-heart surgery and cesarean section births.
How could this be? Modern man is only about 2 million years old and dinosaurs are thought to have become extinct about 60 million years ago. There are three possibilities:
a human civilization existed during the age of the dinosaurs
dinosaurs survived to coexist with man
the stones are an elaborate hoax.
The stones themselves are composed of andesite, a very hard mineral that would make etching quite difficult with primitive tools. They are covered with a natural varnish that is created by bacteria over thousands of years. The etching is made by scraping away this dark varnish to reveal the lighter mineral beneath. According to some reports, examinations of the stones show that the grooves of the etchings also bear traces of additional varnish, however, indicating that they are very old.
Ica natives had been selling such stones to the tourist trade. In fact, when one man was arrested for selling them (if the stones are genuine artifacts, they would be the property of the government and therefore illegal to sell), he confessed to carving the images himself. Those who believe the carvings are authentic suspect that the confession was made to avoid jail. Yet natives of the area can be seen today making etchings on stones in the style of the Ica Stones to sell to tourists. But the distinction between their product and the "genuine" stones is that the newly etched stones clearly scrape away all of the varnish.