Posted by: Johan Normark | March 29, 2009

Dragon bones

I am not a great fan of museums and I rarely visit archaeological (indoor) museums, I prefer archaeological sites. To pile up artifacts on shelves for others to see is not my cup of tea. However, dinosaurs are harder to see “out there” so if I can I try to fit at least one palaeontological museum on my itinery that is fine.

While in Beijing, on New Year’s Day, I forced my family to the Beijing Museum of Natural History to spot some fossils. The museum houses Mamenchisaurus (the longest-necked sauropod and therefore hard to record with a camera), Psittacosaurus and Protoceratops (ancestors of the ceratopsians), Yangchuanosaurus (an allosaur, seen in the picture) chasing an Huayangosaurus (an early stegosaur whose tail is seen in the picture), raptors and also some interesting mammals.

Yangchuanosaurus

Yangchuanosaurus

There are also some models of dinosaurs, some better than others. Behind my family is a Dilophosaurus (the “poisoneous” theropod in Jurassic Park) attacking a small sauropod (or possibly a prosauropod). To the right is at least a prosauropod.

Family in danger

Family in danger

It is not hard to see the resemblance between dinosaurs and dragons which in China are sacred symbols of power that ward off evil spirits. They are also symbols of happiness, immortality, fertility and activity. Dragons live below surface and fossils have generally been seen as bones of dragons which were/are sold as potent ingredients in Chinese medicin.

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