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Dinosaur Valley Opened in Yunnan Province
    2008-09-21 13:00:38     CRIENGLISH.com

China's largest dinosaur theme park opened in the southwestern province of Yunnan in April. It brings back the most mammoth creatures our planet has ever known. In today's On the Road, our guide Ning Yan will take us to the World Dinosaur Valley which contains the world's largest burial site of dinosaur fossils from the late-mid-Jurassic period.


The 1993 si-fi thriller "Jurassic Park" may have offered ground-breaking visuals and sound effects. But the Dinosaur Valley Park is for real.

According to scientists, more dinosaur fossils have been found in the valley in Lufeng in Yunnan Province than anywhere else in the world. And the dinosaur fossils found there are the oldest known to man, dating back to the early and middle Jurassic ages.

There's a 160 million yuan investment in a sprawling site over four square kilometers in the valley, which is home to the world's largest dinosaur park. With life-sized dinosaur sculptures dotted sporadically around the site, the park sets out to reconstruct geographic conditions during the Age of the Dinosaur.

Dinosaurs were vertebrates that dominated terrestrial ecosystems for over 160 million years, first appearing approximately 230 million years ago. At the end of the Cretaceous Period, 65 million years ago, a catastrophic extinction event ended the dominance of dinosaurs on land.

Since the first dinosaur fossils were found in the early nineteenth century, mounted dinosaur skeletons have become major attractions at museums around the world. Dinosaurs have become a part of world culture and remain consistently popular among children and adults. They have been featured in best-selling books and films, and new discoveries are regularly covered by the media.

Since 1938, dinosaur fossils have been found in Lufeng County. Hundreds of complete dinosaur fossils have been unearthed, making it one of the largest dinosaur fossil sites in the world.

Cheng Jinpei is an academician from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He says dinosaur fossils are important natural resources which require effective conservation and protection.

"The dinosaur fossils found here in Lufeng are important archeological discoveries in the world. The park is an ideal place for young people to get basic knowledge about dinosaurs."

Located 60 kilometers from the provincial capital of Kunming, the Dinosaur Valley provides not only well-preserved dinosaur fossil sites, but also high-tech entertainment and leisure programs.

Entering the park, there are four 28-meter-high marble columns engraved with 240 lifelike dinosaurs. Riding on the park tour bus, visitors reach the Dinosaur Base Camp. The tourist guide explains.

"The Dinosaur Base Camp is a high-tech exhibition hall with dinosaur fossils and scientific films about the animal. Its Cinerama hall provides vivid pictures of phenomena like striking aerolites, erupting volcanoes, earthquakes and the extinction of dinosaurs."

More than 20 dinosaur skeleton fossils have been unearthed in the area. Scientists estimate another 400 fossils are still lying buried there.

Visitors are able to have commanding views of more than 60 skeletons displayed in the hall which also provide knowledge about the conservation of fossils and sites.

Dong Zhiming is a dinosaur specialist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"We have been working for nine years now on another Jurassic dinosaur fossil site on the other side of the mountain. This is going to be another signature landscape in China."

In addition to the fossil discovery site, a park has been built to imitate the natural environment for dinosaurs in the Jurassic period. The park is built on the mountain foot and scattered along the hills of rocks and ancient trees. It is divided into several scenic areas including Prehistoric Forest, Crocodile River and Dinosaur Tribe. With man-made waterfalls, rivers and lakes, the part provides a typical scene of dinosaurs' life. Marsh Exploration and Time Machine are high-tech fun areas with adventure and entertainment programs.

Gao Ya, a girl from central China's Jiangxi Province, has just visited the dinosaur fossil discovery site.

"Our teacher told us that tens of thousands of dinosaurs lived here 200 million years ago. The place we are standing was once home of dinosaurs. However, they are extinct and can only be seen in books or movies. But today, the dinosaur park has provided a real world for us to watch the giant creatures."

Zhu Meipin is executive chairman of the Jurassic World Investment Corporation, one of the investors for the park.

"Our company is targeting 'dinosaur tourism' in China. We plan to make the World Dinosaur Valley a cultural tourism center in western China."

An ideal experimental base for prehistoric biology studies, the park is aiming to become a 5A scenic area, the highest category in the tourism industry in China.



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