Exhibition of Prehistoric Animals starts in Chongqing

Residents and visitors to the Chinese city of Chongqing in Sichuan Province can get a glimpse into China’s prehistoric past as a new exhibition featuring a number of dinosaurs and ancient mammals opens at Liberation Monument Square.

A herd, or considering how closely some dinosaurs are related to birds, should that be a flock of animals ranging from Sauropods and Theropods to Woolly Mammoths are on display.  In total over thirty specimens are available for viewing including a reconstruction of a huge long-necked dinosaur.

The exhibition includes animatronic models that roar, bellow and move, it can be quite daunting for a Chinese school child to have a Mammoth wave their trunk at them.  The animatronic Mammoth is a reconstruction of a 2.5 metre tall fossil Mammoth that has been mounted as part of the exhibit.  The Mammoth skeleton has been estimated to be 3 million years old.

The bones of nine dinosaurs are also on display.  Sichuan Province is a very important area for dinosaur fossil discoveries.  The Dashanpu quarry, near the city of Zigong is the world’s most famous mid Jurassic dinosaur site.  Over the last forty years or so, many tonnes of dinosaur fossils have been excavated.  The mudstone quarry represents a wet, lowland area with dense conifer and fern forests.  There was a vast river delta that existed in a stable environment for many millions of years.  Dead animals were washed into the river system and deposited in areas of calmer water, slowly covered in sediments and a number became fossils.

Scientists have been able to gain a unique insight into a mid Jurassic environment.  Fossils of Stegosaurs, Allosaurs and a large number of different types of Sauropod have been discovered.  Each type of Sauropod seems to have had its own niche in the food chain, with some long-necked genera such as Mamenchisaurus specialising in browsing between trees whilst smaller species such as Shunosaurus (S. lii, S. ziliujingensis), were grazers of shorter trees and cycads.

Shunosaurus is one of the best known Sauropods from China, in fact one of the best known long-necked dinosaurs in the world.  A number of skeletons have been discovered including near complete individuals.  It was very abundant in the region and probably lived in large herds.  The most unusual feature of Shunosaurus is the spiked club, (like an Ankylosaur) on its tail.  When the first fossils of this dinosaur were discovered in the late 1970s the strange caudal bones were thought to be the site of a disease or injury in the animal, armour and weapons on Sauropods were largely unknown.  However, as more skeletons were found showing the same feature scientists concluding that this nine metre long dinosaur had a spiked club on the end of its tail.

An Illustration of Shunosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view a model of Shunosaurus: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaurs

The Chongqing exhibition is open until May 24th.

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