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Special Interests
Acupuncture l Great Wall l Mountaineering l Paleontology

As a child one of my favorite books was ‘The Lost World’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Of course, it was probably the abridged version that I read, for I remember several colorful pictures of a bovine looking Brontosaurus, a terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a most dashing Professor George E. Challenger. That and the large font text are probably good indications that my vocabulary was still rather limited. You won’t find a plateau with bloodthirsty Tyrannosaurus running amok, but China is home to the richest dinosaur egg deposits in the world. Most of the eggs date from the Cretaceous period, 146 million to 65 million years ago. This was a time when global temperatures were much warmer and there were no glaciers. If you looked out a window into this period you might see fast running duck billed hadrosaurs running away from that mean looking Tyrannosaurus Rex as a flock of pterosaurs soar above in the sky.

However, looking out that ‘window’ at Green Dragon Mountain in Hubei Province today will show scientists from around the world trying to get into one of the most exciting new sites in the world. This scientific treasure trove is now guarded vigilantly by the Chinese government who now considers dinosaur eggs ‘national treasures’. Excavation regulations and export laws on fossils have been tightened to protect these treasures. As an indication of the wealth of these deposits, accounts by the first western scientists to this area speak of egg fossils in such abundance that children were found playing with them while several examples were actually used as building stone!

An older and more renowned site is the one in Nanxiong Basin, which is an elongated intermontane basin located in northern Guangdong and southern Jiangxi provinces. Since the first dinosaur eggs and mammal fossils were discovered in the basin in 1961, over 1,000 eggs and more than 40,000 eggshell fragments have been collected from this region.

If you’re thinking of making this trip into prehistory then be forewarned that special arrangements have to be made with the Cultural Bureau in each province, the central authorities in Beijing, and possibly even the Public Security Bureau. Otherwise access to the egg sites themselves will be denied and one will have to be satisfied with the specimens in museums there.

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