Tuesday, August 17, 2010
During the Flugsaurier Symposium I went on a field trip to Liaoning Province, which was a great opportunity to see different parts of China and visit Jehol group outcrops and museums. We first visited the Chaoyang Fossil Bird Geopark, which included a museum, in situ exhibits, parks, and lots of interesting statues. This is Nurhachius, an istiodactylid pterosaur from the Jiufotang Formation. The model has too many teeth, but he’s still pretty fun.
One of the best parts of the visit was this great in situ display exposing Jehol Group rocks. It had fairly good descriptions of the geology, and even marked on faults and other interesting features. Fossils discovered during the excavation were left in place, and included Cathayornis, Shenzhouraptor, and lots of fish.
Inside the museum proper were literally hundreds of Liaoning fossils of every sort – insects, plants, fish, turtles, champsosaurs, theropods, birds, pterosaurs – the list goes on and on. Here’s just a single display case showing off various fossil birds - I think they are all Confuciusornis, but may be mistaken.
It was easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fossil material in the geopark. After we finished in the museum we entered the fossil forest full of enormous petrified stumps. Incredible!
The museum and geopark had a few glitches - some specimens were mislabelled or in the wrong hallway, and there may have been a few 'plussed' specimens on display - but it was a really cool place that certainly has a lot of potential if a few of these errors are fixed up.