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Zigong World Geopark

Overview of Zigong World Geopark
Sichuan is a beautiful province renowned for its mouth-watering cuisine, casual lifestyle, exquisite Dazu Stone Carvings, panda and Zigong World Geopark,etc. Located in Zigong city, “the capital of salt, the hometown of dinosaur and the city of lanterns”, Zigong World Geopark, the kingdom of dinosaurs, is constituted by Dashanpu Dinosaur Fossil Site Scenic Area(Heritage of Dashanpu Dinosaurian Fauna,大山铺恐龙化石群遗迹园区), Salt Industry Technology Zone Area(自贡盐业科技园区) and Cyathea Valley Area(桫椤谷园区) which covering an area of 56.6 km2.

The typical, rare and precious dinosaur fossils as well as the relics of salt exploitation and processing industry are Zigong World Geopark’s two main features. The middle Jurassic dinosaurs in Zigong World Geopark in particular are the most characteristic, representative and diversified in the world. Complemented by natural geomorphology (natural terrain), enchanting scenery and rich cultural sites, it becomes a comprehensive world geopark embracing science research and tourism.

In 2001, it was enlisted into the first batch of national geopark, and 2008 witness it ratified by UNESCO as a world geopark.

Fossil of Agilisaurus Louderbacki (劳氏灵龙)

Zigong Dinosaur Museum: the Best Place to see Jurassic Dinosaur Fossils in the World

Maybe you have watched the movie Jurassic Park, do you want to see the relics of the real dinosaurs’ fossils? Well, Zigong Dinosaru Meseum is the best place.

Located in the northeast area of Zigong city, 9km from downtown, the 66000 square meters Zigong Dinosaur Museum was built on the world-renowned Dashanpu Dinosaur Fossile Site Scenic Area. It is the first comprehensive museum devotes to dinosaur fossils’ scientific research, site protection and samples exhibition in China. It is also the largest and the only dinosaur museum with dinosaur fossils’ burying sites in Asia.

Almost all the known dinosaur species of Jurassic era (205million to 135million years ago) can be found in Zigong, in other words, Zigong dinosaur museum boasts the most complete, representative and diversified Jurassic dinosaur fossils in the world.

Dashanpu Dinosaur Fossil Site Scenic Area, the core area of Zigong World Geopark, is one of the most important dinosaur fossils excavation base in the world. Within its 3000 square meters’ excavation area, there are over 10000 fossils belonging to 200 dinosaurs and vertebrates of 27 species(脊椎动物) include fish, amphibians, turtles and crocodiles which have been unearthed. Among them, there is the best preserved fossil of the most primitive Stegosauru(剑龙): Huayangosaurus Taibaii Dong, Et. Al (太白华阳龙); the most complete and original Sauropod(蜥脚类恐龙): Shunosaurus lii (李氏蜀龙); the most complete Ornithopod(小型鸟脚类恐龙): Agilisaurus Louderbacki (劳氏灵龙)and Shunosaurus(蜀龙) as well as Omeisaurus Junghsiensi(峨眉龙尾锤) which are the first discovered in the world. Besides, over 20 complete and priceless dinosaur fossils and the skulls of vertebrates are unearthed and displayed in the museum. These fossils are important materials for study the dinosaurs and other ancient animal species’ evolution.

Fossil of Huayangosaurus Taibaii Dong, Et. Al (太白华阳龙)

Together with Dinosaur Provincial Park in Canada and Dinosaur National Monument in America, Zigong World Geopark ranks as the top three dinosaur museums with the dinosaurs’ burying sites, and American National Geography regards it as the best dinosaur museum in the world.

Left: Huayangosaurus Taibaii Dong, Et. Al (太白华阳龙) Right:Shunosaurus(蜀龙)

The museum’s exhibition area is divided into three parts: the first part focuses on spreading the basic knowledge of dinosaurs, such as the classification and evolution of dinosaurs and other species. The second area evolves on exhibiting various dinosaurs lived in Zigong. They are displayed in the exhibition hall. The 20meter long Omeisaurus Tianfuensis (天府峨嵋龙) is most impressive, with neck 10m from the ground. The 4 to 5 meters long Gasosaurus(建设气龙), the enemy of Omeisaurus Tianfuensis, can be found here also. Among them, Huayangosaurus taibaii dong, et. al (太白华阳龙) and the first discovered Pterosaur(翼龙) in the world are most precious.

 skull of Shunosaurus lii (李氏蜀龙)

 Toes of  Shunosaurus lii (李氏蜀龙)


 Shunosaurus lii (李氏蜀龙)

 Shunosaurus lii (李氏蜀龙)

The third area is the dinosaur’s burying site. Massive dinosaur burying sites are distributed in Zigong, this rare seen dinosaur fossil treasure house triggers interest worldwide. By now, there are over 200 dinosaur individuals unearthed from over 70 sites, among which 18 has complete skeletons.

Shenhai Well: the First Deep Well Over 1000 Meters in the World

Zigong city boasts over 2000 years long’s salt exploitation and processing history, thus is famed as the capital of salt. Shenhai Well (燊海井) was dug by the simple tools and outstanding skills during 1823AD to 1835AD. It is the first deep well over one thousands meters, thus is famed as The “Fifth Innovation”, “The father of recent petroleum drill”, “The wonder of Drilling”. It marks the maturity of ancient drilling technology in China, and is also a milestone of world drilling technology.

 Glimplse of Shenhai Well (燊海井)

Cyathea Valley

Cyathea is the main source of food for dinosaurs which emerged 300million years ago, 150 million years earlier than dinosaurs. Experts remark Cyathea as follows: “They are mostly terrestrial ferns, usually with a single tall stem. Rarely, the trunk may be branched or creeping. Many species also develop a fibrous mass of roots at the base of the trunk. The genus has a pantropical distribution, with over 470 species. They grow in habitats ranging from tropical rain forests to temperate woodlands.”

Cyathea in Zigong are usually 3 to 4 meters in height, with diameter of 20 to 30 centimeters and the tallest cyathea measure 7m to 8m in height. By now, there are over 16000 Cyathea in Zigong’s Cyathea Valley, which are high aesthetic as well as scientific study value.

Cyathea is the main source of food for dinosaurs

Zigong Lantern Festival

With history dating from 1000 years ago, Zigong lantern Festival is characterized by distinctive local flavor. Combining the essence of lantern festivals in other places in China, it boasts grand scale, outstanding craftsmanship, exquisite patterns rare seen elsewhere in the world, thus wins the reputation as “Number One Lantern Festival in China”.

Further Reading: Scientific Value of Zigong World Geopark

The abundant and ancient vertebrates fossils represented by dinosaurs fossils, the typical Jurassic stratigraphic section and the complete salt industry relics of Zigong World Geopark are of significant value both in China and in the world.

Zigong World Geopark’s Jurassic earth contains large quantity of dinosaurs and vertebrates fossils, massive clusters of dinosaur fossils can be found here often. The abundant Jurassic dinosaur fossils here bridge the gap of the dinosaur evolution history in the world, making Zigong city the most ideal place to excavate and embark on the study of the Jurassic dinosaurs in the world.

The rich brine salt resources in Zigong World Geopark and the over 2000 years’ brine salt exploitation history bestowed Zigong city with numerous relics and ten advanced salt processing skills in the world, which are of significant value to study the salt mine’s excavation know-how and the formation as well as the distribution of brine deposits.

Further Reading: Why Zigong has so concentrative dinosaur fossils?

In Jurassic era Zigong was a spacious land near the lakes with giant trees, hot weather and thick vegetation, an ideal habitat for dinosaurs. Dashanpu was a shoal at that time, dinosaurs die here or elsewhere were carried by water and buried in this area, forming dinosaur fossils after millions of years.
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