"We found a lot of interesting relics that had been associated with lotus by local residents. The ripple marks, mud cracks and duck-billed dinosaur tracks had created a picture of a lotus field, and lead to the folklore of 'booming golden lotus from the earth,'" he said.
Chen Yu, another researcher with the project as well as an archaeologist with the Capital Museum in Beijing, said the region had been a transport hub for China and other Asian countries, where Buddhism thrived.
"The religion has a special worship towards lotus, which symbolizes peace and quiet. This is another reason for the residents to name the place for the flower, seeking blessing from the Buddha," Chen said.
Qijiang County was located in what, historically, was a frontier area, and had endured wars at that time. The Lotus Mountain Fortress had been a safe hiding place since the Han Dynasty (202 BC- 220 AD), according to the epigraphy of various dynasties, she said.
Adrienne Mayor, the third researcher with the project as well as a historian of ancient science and a classical folklorist with Stanford University in the United States, said the case of the Lotus Mountain Fortress proves that dinosaur tracks had impacted ancient Chinese folklore, which could provide clues for seeking other tracks.
The fortress' 700 years of history is a rarity in the world, and reflects China's traditional philosophy of the relationship between humans and nature, she said.