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UPDATED: December 20, 2006 NO.41 OCT.12, 2006
China's Dinosaur Research
Research about dinosaurs is based on a variety of fossil and non-fossil records, including body remains, trackways, and trace remains such as eggs and feces. Dinosaurs are considered the best evidence for biological evolution. Their sudden extinction remains a scientific puzzle, and the impetus for scientists from around the world to discover more.

The first Chinese dinosaur to be named was mandschurosaurus, discovered in Jiayin County of Heilongjiang Province in 1902.

Between 1928 and 1931, Chinese scientist Yuan Fuli led an expedition into the northern part of the desert in Qitai, a county in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, to find two large dinosaur skeletons. This was the first such exploration in Asia and it caused a sensation.

The period between 1933 and 1949 saw the establishment of the foundation work of China’s dinosaur research, led by Yang Zhongjian. Yang finished his studies in Germany and returned home in 1928 and devoted all his life to the study of vertebrate paleontology. Yang is considered the father of China’s vertebrate paleontology research as he has fostered a group of dinosaur fossil excavators and researchers.

In the early 1950s, Zhou Mingzhen,a geology scientist, found fossils of dinosaur and their eggs when he was guiding his students on field work in Shandong Province. Yang also took part in this excavation.

Later, geologists again discovered an intact dinosaur fossil in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

In 1959, a joint paleontology expedition by China and the Soviet Union dug out a large number of Hadrosaurus fossils and other dinosaur fossils in 1960.

In 1963, the Chinese Academy of Sciences organized an expedition to conduct a three-year inspection in Xinjiang. The same year, a 15-meter-long Hadrosaurus fossil, the world’s largest, was excavated in Zhucheng, Shandong Province.

The year 1979 was a milestone in China’s dinosaur research history as hundreds of intact dinosaur skeletons were discovered in the city of Zigong in Sichuan Province. In 1987 an open field dinosaur museum was built here, the first in China and Asia.

In 1983, a sauropoda fossil was excavated by an expedition organized by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

After reform and opening up, China began to seek cooperation on dinosaur research projects and formed expeditions with countries like Britain, the United States, Canada and Japan. Among these, the China-Canada expedition has yielded the best results.

Since 1984, six intact dinosaur fossils have been found, one after another, in Qitai County in the Xinjiang region by Chinese and foreign researchers.

In 1987, a joint expedition by China and Canada in Qitai excavated the then largest dinosaur fossil in Asia, making Junggar Pendi Basin the important base for dinosaur research.

Between 2000 and 2002, a China-Germany expedition inspected the Junggar Pendi Basin and discovered many animal fossils. After three years of research they found these animals had lived 160-170 million years ago and they are of new genuses, different from the ancient vertebrates in other regions of the world.

Dinosaur fossils were also found in Lingwu, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. In June 2005, Lingwu was listed as a relic-protection location. This August, fossils excavated here were identified to be the head of diplodocus.

Also in August, the world’s longest-necked dinosaur was found in Xinjiang.

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