Posted by: danielfee | July 19, 2012

Travel Photo of the Day 07-19-2012

Sinosauropteryx Fossil – Chaoyang, China



Sihetun Geopark Fossil Site

Sinosauropteryx, meaning “Chinese reptilian wing” in Chinese, was the first genus of dinosaur to be found with evidence of feathers. They were covered with “furry” coats of very simple filament-like feathers. Structures that indicate colouration have been preserved on some of the feathers, which also makes Sinosauropteryx the first non-avialian dinosaurs where colouration has been determined. The colouration includes a banded tail with reddish and light bands. This was what drew us to the farmland in western Liaoning Province in northeast  China. As you might be able to tell from the photo of the Sihetun Geopark Fossil Site, it is not a big tourist attraction. In fact we had to wait while they found the guy with the key to unlock the gate and the little on-site museum for our visit.

The first fossil specimen of the feathered dinosaur, which was later named Sinosauropteryx prima, was discovered in August 1996 by Li Yumin. Yumin was a farmer and part-time fossil hunter who often prospected around Liaoning Province to acquire fossils to sell to individuals and museums. He recognized the unique quality of the specimen, which was separated into two slabs, and sold the slabs to two separate museums in China. One was sold to the National Geological Museum in Beijing and the Nanjimg Institute of Geology and Paleontology. The second photo is of the fossil that Mr. Yumin found. It was the director of the Beijing museum, Ji Qiang, who recognized the importance of the find. As did Canadian palaeontologist Phil Currie  who was visiting the Beijing Museum and later was quoted in the New York Times, “When I saw this slab of silt stone mixed with volcanic ash in which the creature is embedded, I was bowled over.” The top photo is another Sinosauropteryx fossil that is displayed in the Chaoyang Paleontological Museum.




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