China Saturday announced the opening of a global bidding process to create a dinosaur theme park at the site of a world-class dinosaur fossil cluster in Yunyang County, southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
"The world-class natural resources should be matched with world-leading vision and wisdom. The invitation for global bids aims to attract a team of the top planners and paleontologists from around the world," said Qin Changde, head of Yunyang County.
The county wants to build a dinosaur theme park that focuses on environmental protection, recreating the landscape of the Jurassic period, and promoting scientific research of the fossils.
"The theme park is expected to be designed and developed to offer a fantastic journey into the world of the dinosaurs based on the rare fossil clusters combined with the best modern resources," said Qin.
The bidding process has been listed on the website www.chinabidding.com.
The theme park site will be located in Pu'an Township, Yunyang County. In early 2015, Pu'an residents reported finding suspected dinosaur fossils in the area. The local government immediately took temporary measures to protect the fossils.
In October 2016, a joint team of experts organized by the municipal government officially began the excavation of fossils at the Yunyang site.
"Initial excavation and evaluation found a large scale and wide variety of fossil resources in Yunyang, with great research value and the ability to promote scientific literacy among the public," said Xu Xing from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The site is characterized by densely distributed fossils of dinosaurs and other species such as turtles, from a wide time span located within a large geographical area.
The excavation identified fossils distributed over an area of rock stratum stretching five kilometers. The exposed length in the core area of dinosaur fossils is 550 meters. A 150-meter-long, 2-meter-thick, 8-meter-high "dinosaur fossil wall" was excavated at the site and a large quantity of dinosaur fossils were also found under the fossil wall.
According to Xu, the late Lias to Middle Jurassic was the key period for the evolution of dinosaurs. The emergence of many sub-groups and some important features, for example, the evolution of large-bodied dinosaurs, took place during this period.
"A limited amount of fossils have been found from this period worldwide. The Yunyang Pu'an dinosaur fossil site is of important research significance to understand the evolutionary sequence during this period," said Xu.
"It represents an important find for dinosaur research globally in recent years. I believe it will draw worldwide attention and contribute to dinosaur research, the promotion of scientific literary and local development," Xu added.
Abundant fossils have been unearthed in a widely distributed area within Chongqing Municipality. Large quantities and wide varieties of dinosaur fossils have been found in 66 areas of 24 counties and townships.
The Yunyang Pu'an Dinosaur Geopark gained approval from the Chongqing municipal government in May 2017.
"We hope to attract global talent to preserve the fossil site and apply cutting-edge technology to allow the public to vividly experience it," said Qin.