Visiting a dinosaur world in Northeast China’s Yanji
Published: Feb 22, 2023 11:23 PM
Photo: Shan Jie/Global Times

Photo: Shan Jie/Global Times

Yanji City in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Northeast China's Jilin Province, has become a gathering place for tourists this winter, but this land was already very lively tens of millions of years ago during the Cretaceous period.

Archeologists have discovered that the Yanji region was the habitat of many species of dinosaur. In the past few years, dinosaur fossils have been constantly unearthed in the region. The first dinosaur museum in the province has also been built in the region.

In its exhibition halls, the Yanji Dinosaur Museum showcases Yanji's dinosaur fauna, which are mainly represented with Titanosauriformes and Crocodyliformes, the largest known dinosaurs in Jilin Province.

The museum highlights the importance of the discovery of dinosaurs from the Early and Late Cretaceous transitional period and establishes an excellent platform for research and exploring questions surrounding dinosaur migration and the paleogeography and paleoenvironment in Northeast Asia.

One of the iconic collections in the museum is the first well preserved Cretaceous crocodilian fossil found in China, a new genus and new species found in Longshan, Yanji.

The genus name Yanji crocodilian originates from where the fossil was discovered. Based on the morphological characteristics of Yanji crocodilian teeth, it can be deduced that the crocodilians commonly fed on fish, but occasionally may have fed on small dinosaurs as well.

Displayed in the Flourishing Yanji Dinosaurs Showroom are basic information about the strata where the Longshan fossils were unearthed, research achievements and the habits of dinosaurs and other paleontological organisms that used to live in Yanji.

Introductions to the Mesozoic ecological environment of Yanji and the Mesozoic flora and fauna of the region make up the major displays.

The dinosaur fossils and other paleontological organisms unearthed in Yanji are presented vividly and stereoscopically in advanced ways such as LEDs, phantom imaging and interactive games.

Jin Changzhu, a professor based at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, uncovered two huge sauropod scapula and limb bone fossils at the Hailanjiang Garden construction site in Yanji in May 2016.

The discovery was initially prompted by the news of a local unique stone enthusiast, Pu Shenze, discovering ornithopod vertebral fossil in the area. This kicked off excavations, which led to the current discoveries.