The Zigong Dinosaur Museum is one of the three largest dinosaur museums in the world built on the actual excavation site of the fossils contained within. Zigong's dinosaur fossils, which were buried in sandy silt in the Meso-Jurassic period, were discovered in 1972. The museum itself has a large and diverse quantity of specimens and fossils, and is a great place to get a general understanding of the ancient reptiles that inhabited the region.
A famous saying goes, "Sichuan's dinosaurs are numerous and one finds a veritable nest of them at Zigong." Covering an area of 66,000 sq. m (710,418 sq. ft), Zigong Dinosaur Museum is located in Dashanpu, 11 kilometers (7 miles) northeast of Zigong, Sichuan province's third largest city. Truly, a considerable number of dinosaur fossils from different eras have been discovered in more than forty locations within the city, and a majority of them are concentrated at Dashanpu.
The most impressive feature of Zigong's fossil discovery is that altogether there are more than 100 individual specimens that have been excavated at the site, of which some thirty are complete or near-complete skeletons. The most intriguing and valuable of the remnants are the group of dinosaur skulls.
At present, only around 20% of excavated dinosaurs in the world are from the Jurassic period, and most of these are from the late Jurassic. For years, the lack of fossils from the early and middle Jurassic periods left a lot unexplained about how dinosaurs evolved. However, most of those fossils discovered in Zigong, and especially those at Dashanpu, helped fill in many of the blanks and provided extremely valuable material for the study of dinosaurs during those periods.
The newly built Zigong Dinosaur Museum consists of three floors. The exhibits mostly focus on displaying fossils that have been excavated from the immediate site, and are divided into three parts:
- Part 1 introduces general information about fossils, botanical evolution, geologic periods, the evolution of dinosaurs and other extinct species.
- Part 2 introduces the group of dinosaurs from the Dashanpu discovery site. The collection ranges fromboth tiny dinosaurs to massive skeletons standing over 10 meters (33 feet) high and 20 meters (66 feet) long.
- Part 3 is the actual site of the dinosaurs discovery and an exhibition area of 1,000 sq. m (10,764 sq. ft) is given for visitors to explore the dig site. You can actually go down into an underground room and touch the fossils and see the complexity of the layers and ores. Observers can also look down from above to see dinosaur bones in their original setting.
Zigong Dinosaur Museum opens from 8:30 to 17:30 and the entrance ticket costs 40 RMB per person.