Olympic Dinosaurs

Today sees the start of the Beijing Olympics, the 29th running of the games of the modern Olympiad, with over 11,000 athletes taking part in events as diverse as archery, weightlifting and tennis.  Sixteen days of intense competition will follow across the 28 different sports represented at the Games, the GB team consists of a total of 312 athletes, taking part in 20 of the sporting disciplines.

This event is likely to dominate the world’s media and just for a bit of fun we thought we would pay tribute to China for all its hard work in creating the Games, for Chinese scientists are at the forefront of some of most amazing dinosaur discoveries in recent years.

Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin is accredited with helping to found the International Olympic Committee in 1894, he died in 1937, the same year as Dong Zhi-ming, perhaps China’s most famous palaeontologist was born.  Dong Zhi-ming is responsible for naming and describing over 20 different dinosaur genera.  He has led expeditions to the Gobi desert as well as helped to open up and explore the geology of China’s many fossil rich provinces.  Professor Zhi-ming is based at the impressive Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, a place well worth visiting if the many thousands of tourists fancy a break from the sporting activity.

Professor Dong Zhi-ming

Picture Credit: IVPP

The Olympic Games will provide the opportunity for many athletes to break records, the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (known as the IVPP for short), is also a record breaker.  This institute, first set up in 1957 has an estimated 200,000 vertebrate fossil specimens, making it the home of the largest vertebrate fossil collection in the world.

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