With our data collection and preliminary research papers completed, we set out for a final weekend excursion to Beijing. In addition to sightseeing, our trip included a visit to the Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), the national paleontology museum of China.
While there, we had the opportunity to view the exhibits on fossil eggs, in which we saw some of the first Spheroolithus clutches ever described, whose characteristics contribute to the definition of the oogenus and are important for comparison with the collection of Spheroolithus eggs we’ve examined for the past few weeks at the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History. Other interesting egg exhibits included a rare pterosaur egg with a preserved embryo, and a variety of other eggs types such as Ovaloolithus and Dictyoolithus, known only from Asia.
We were all grateful for the opportunity to visit several important cultural sites within and around Beijing. Taken individually or collectively, their scale is overwhelming. Tiananmen Square’s vast expanse, the hushed silence and well-guarded peace of the Mao Zedong Mausoleum, the intricacies of Ming and Qing Dynasties’ imperial architecture at the Forbidden City, and finally, the dizzying heights of the Great Wall at Badaling swathed equally in smooth stone, gregarious tourists, and late afternoon mist. On a culinary note, the delicious fried scorpions sold at the night market were not to be missed, either.
A full blog post could probably be written about each of these sites and more, but perhaps it is sufficient to reflect on the collective experience of the group’s visit to Beijing. China’s capital is where history has a prominent place in the here and now, whether one tours a meticulously preserved symbol of imperial supremacy or simply walks back to the hotel along a hutong side street – neighborhoods that remained essentially unchanged as waves of social and political upheaval crashed around them. Visiting Beijing is a singular look at a modern Chinese city at once coming to terms with its past and lifting itself toward a future of its own unique making.
Persevering through a whirlwind pace and near 100-degree temperatures in Beijing, the group has arrived at the end of its Chinese journey. However, our studies of dinosaur reproductive biology will continue at our home colleges and universities. We leave excited about what the museum and field data gathered this trip might reveal. As scientific collaboration between our countries grows, there has never been a more exciting time for students like us to travel to China. Though this is the last blog post, we continue to appreciate reader comments and questions, and will endeavor to respond quickly. We look forward to seeing friends and loved ones again soon! Thank you again to the National Science Foundation, Drs. David Varricchio and Frankie Jackson, and the staff of the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History!
Zaijian for now,
Blog post by Danny Barta