by Eric Lyons, M.Min. and Kyle Butt, M.A.

People generally enjoy showing pictures of places they have visited and things they have seen. Simply telling someone about a trip, say, to Sequoia National Park, is one thing; showing that person a picture of you standing next to the largest tree in Sequoia National Park, named General Sherman (which also is the largest tree on the planet), is entirely different. As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” People constantly take pictures of things they want to share with others. Someone on a safari in Africa may bring home pictures of an elephant he saw in the wild. Visitors to the islands of Indonesia delight in showing pictures they took of real komodo dragons scurrying across the ground and up trees. Tourists in Alaska often are seen on roadsides capturing moose, dall sheep, and even grizzly bears on camera. Why? There are several reasons, but for many people it is to show others what they have seen. Pictures also authenticate the stories we tell.

Humans not only have told stories about large reptilian creatures (i.e., dragons/dinosaurs) for millennia (Lyons, 2007, 29:65-71,73-79), the ancients also left behind “pictures” of these animals: some with serpentine necks, stout legs, elongated bodies, and enormous tails; others with knobby heads, short necks, plated backs, and spiked tails. Of course, these pictures are not the kind we take today, but paintings and carvings on rocks, in caves, on pottery, etc. Like the deer, goats, monkeys, mammoths, and other animals that have been discovered around the world carved or painted on rock walls by the ancients, various ancient “pictures” of dinosaurs have also been uncovered. If humans really did coexist with these animals at one time, such pictures are exactly what one would expect to find.

THE STEGOSAURUS OF CAMBODIA

The Khmer civilization once flourished in the Southeast Asian territory of Angkor. Hindu and Buddhist kings during the 8th through 13th centuries A.D. built majestic stone temples throughout the area (NOTE: Information about the Khmer civilization, its rulers, and temples is derived from Freeman and Jacques, 1999, unless otherwise noted). In approximately 1186, King Jayavarman VII undertook the building of Ta Prohm, a stone monastery/temple. The ruins of Ta Prohm, which stand today in the overgrown jungles of Cambodia, were chosen by one of the major preservation societies “to be left in its ‘natural state,’ as an example of how most of Angkor looked on its discovery in the 19th century” (p. 136).

Intricately carved statues and stone columns fill the temple-monastery. On the stones, the ancients depicted animals, people, gods, various plants, and a host of other decorative images. But one column of carvings maintains a special interest to those interested in dinosaur/human coexistence. Concerning this particular column, Freeman and Jacques wrote: “On the angles and corners of the porch are numerous small scenes and representations of animals, both real and mythical” (p. 144). Of special note, the authors wrote about one of the carved animals, saying: “Among the vertical strip of roundels in the angle between the south wall of the porch and the east wall of the main body of the gopurathere is even a very convincing representation of a stegosaur” (p. 144, emp. added). In their other book on Angkor, Jacques and Freeman were even more emphatic, saying that the animal “bears a striking resemblance to a stegosaurus” (1997, p. 213)….

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