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Beijing Museum of Natural History

Beijing Museum of Natural History, Beijing Attractions, Beijing Travel GuideBeijing Museum of Natural History is the largest of its kind in China, and housed in an unpretentious building in southern Beijing on the western edge of the Temple of Heaven. It is the first museum of its kind in China, and it houses more than 5,000 specimens, which are displayed in the Halls of Paleontology, Zoology and Botany.

Featured in the Hall of Paleontology are fossil remains from the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras, forming a wordless chronicle of prehistoric life that flourished between 500 million and one million years ago. Among the exhibits is a piece of ocher marble with a cloud-like pattern on its surface formed by fossilized seaweed. This is all that remains from a period of floods dating back some 500 million years when algal life dominated the earth. When the floods receded, the algae had to adapt to a more terrestrial existence and early ferns and gymnosperms, the predecessors of terrestrial plant life, came into being. The "Dinosaur World" can be divided to two parts, "Jurassic Park" and "Cretaceous Park". The "Jurassic Park" reappears the ecology sight in 140 million years ago and the dinosaurs in different types in that period, such as Mamenxi dinosaur, Tuojiang dinosaur, Lufeng dinosaur, and flesh-eater Yongchuan dinosaur and Qi dinosaur and so on.

The Hall of Zoology houses more than 2,000 specimens arranged to show the course of evolution from simple aquatic to complex terrestrial forms. These include a vast range of Chinese fauna, from the lynx and otter of the northeast to the peacock and parrot of the southwest; from sea dwellers such as the whale and giant clam to such terrestrial creatures as Exhibits of Beijing Museum of Natural History, Beijing Attractions, Beijing Travel Guidethe giant panda. There are also enlarged models of protozoa and finely colored models of jellyfish and coral. The fish specimens numbers in the hundreds, represents both sea and fresh-water aquatic life. Among the reptile specimens, two items catch the visitor’s eye: an enormous leatherback sea turtle (Dermochely's coriacea) and a Chinese alligator; Equipped with a vocal cord-like organ, the latter growls in stormy weather and during fights.

The museum also houses a rich collection of specimens of avian life. The hornbill, for instance, is a rare species in China. Its long scythe-like bill surmounted by a horny masque gives it its Chinese name, "rhinoceros bird."

In the Hall of Botany, the aquarium contains a collection of various forms of algal life, including kelp, laver and agar in a range of strikingly beautiful colors. China has a rich variety of plant life, including almost every one of the 300,000 known species of seed plants. The dawn wood (Metasequoia), for instance, long considered extinct, is found in China's Sichuan and Hubei provinces. Among other rare species on display is the Lingzhi Cao (Glossy ganoderma), considered by purveyors of traditional Chinese medicine to be a potent elixir of life.