and away, the hottest spot on earth for Paleontology is China.
According to the January 12, 2001 issue of the prestigious
journal Science, "Paleontologists are flocking to China,
which has beefed up its support of the field to take advantage
of troves of superbly preserved specimens". Fossils unearthed
in Western Liaoning Province, for example, may help end one
of the most high-powered debates in paleontology--whether
birds evolved from dinosaurs."
is know Liaoning Province in northeastern China, 120 million
years ago was forested lakesides filled with diverse wildlife.
Nearby active volcanoes would periodically erupt, sending
clouds of poisonous gas and ash into the air, and killing
anything in the way. The gas killed any living thing and the
dead were sometimes covered with a fine powder of volcanic
ash, protecting their bodies, and enabling preservation in
finds in the past few years in Liaoning include Liaoxiornis delicates, the smallest
bird known from the Mesozoic, and Hyphalosaurus sinohydrosaurus (Nature 401, 262,
1999) a long-necked diapid reptile. The famous feathered dinosaur, Confuciusornis
sanctus, was described in 1995 from three partial skeletons, but Chinese workers
have discovered many new and complete specimens that show almost all aspects of
the skeletal anatomy and much of the plumage. Then there is Protopteryx fengningensis
(Science: Volume 290, Number 5498, Issue of 8 Dec 2000, pp. 1955-1959). Many more
are cued for description in the literature.