This week I got to visit several places that had been on my “to do list” for quite a number of years. First off was the dinosaur museum in Chaoyang city, Liaoning.
Chaoyang has caused a storm in palaeontology in recent times. The very fine sediments here mean that fossils are superbly well preserved. Usually, only bones are preserved in fossils, but at Chaoyang, even soft tissues such as skin, scales, hair and feathers show up.
This means that Chaoyang has an amazing collection of fossils including some of the worlds oldest birds, fish, dragon flies, spiders, and the first even confirmed feathered dinosaur.
That is the thing that has really messed up palaeontology over the last 20 years – dinosaurs had feathers!
Just how extensive dinosaur feathers were is still debatable. Did they all have feathers or only some? Did they have feathers all over, or just on parts of their bodies? Since they didn’t all fly, what function did the feathers serve? What colour were they?
The one thing we do know, that text book you saw as a kid with lizard like dinosaurs slithering slowly in swamps is completely wrong.
So that is why I wanted to visit Chaoyang so much.
The museum itself is quite large with both indoor and outdoor displays and a 4D cinema. The displays are really unique but disappointingly, many of the display cases were empty. (Perhaps being used for a touring exhibition?)