Located on the west side of the central exhibition hall on the first floor, this hall presents different evolution periods of life in Chongqing one by one with abundant fossil specimens, restoring models, and paintings on the wall. It is divided into six sections: preface, the origin of life, the rise of vertebrates, the age of dinosaurs, the rise of mammals, and evolution of human beings.
The Origin of Life
From the earliest life on Earth in the form of single cells in the primordial oceans to today’s rich and colorful life forms in every corner of the earth, life has gone through a long evolutionary road of nearly four billion years. For thousands of years, human beings have been dedicated to the exploration of this philosophical proposition and scientific puzzle - the origin of life. The exhibition area introduces several typical hypotheses of the origin of life, such as Theory of the Cosmic Germ, Hypothesis of the Miller-Urey Experiment, and Theory of the Iron-sulfur World.
More than 500 million years ago in the early Cambrian period, primitive life in the ocean exploded, and many phyla emerged in a short period of time, such as lobopods represented by Hallucigenia, coelenterates represented by sea anemones and jellyfish, proarthropods and arthropods represented by Fuxianhuia, trilobites, and Anomalocaris, and primitive vertebrates like Kunming fish. This exhibition area shows the characteristic types of organisms in the Cambrian period by restoring the Marine environment at that time, and has fine exhibits restoring the scenes of the Cambrian life explosion.
Invertebrate is a generic term for animals without spines. Compared to vertebrates, invertebrates have simple and low-level body structures with undifferentiated nervous systems. Invertebrates include many phyla such as Physlum Coelenterata, Mollusca, Arthropoda, Brachiopoda, Physlum Echinodermata, and Hemichordata. This exhibition area mainly displays representative types of invertebrates through fossils and models, and has fine exhibits such as Sinoceras.
This exhibition area introduces a variety of species of fish that lived from the Silurian to the present day, placoderm that existed from the middle Silurian to the end of the Devonian, chondrichthyan that existed from the early Devonian to the present days, acanthodian that existed from the middle Silurian to the end of the Permian, and bony fishes between the Devonian to the modern times. The exhibition area boasts a host of precious exhibits, represented by Entelognathus primordialis found in Yunnan province and Bianchengichthys micros of Chongqing.
Dinosaurs in Chongqing
China is the world’s leading “dinosaur country”, and Chongqing is dubbed as a city built on the backbones of dinosaurs because a large number of dinosaur fossils have been found in Chongqing. By 2022, dinosaur fossils have been found in more than 70 sites in 29 districts and counties in Chongqing, many of which are world-famous dinosaurs. For example, the Yongchuan Dragon, one of the best-preserved theropod dinosaurs in the world; Mamenchisaurus that has its origins in Hechuan, known as the Oriental Dragon, and Chungkingosaurus, the world’s smallest stegosaurus. In particular, the world-class dinosaur fossil group discovered in Yunyang in 2015 is home to a wide variety of densely-distributed fossils of rich types, forming the largest dinosaur fossil wall built in the original Jurassic site. This exhibition area introduces the species, distribution, and featured relics of dinosaurs in Chongqing by displaying a large number of dinosaur fossil replica, fossil walls, dinosaur footprints, etc. It has many fine exhibits, such as Yunyang dinosaur fossil wall, fossils of Yunyangosaurus, Neornithischian Dinosaur fossils discovered in Yunyang, Chongqing, restored scenes of dinosaur footprints, fossils of primitive Bashan dinosaurs, fossils of Camarasaurus, fossils of Shunosaurus Lii, and fossils of Omeisaurus.
Flying Dinosaurs to the Sky
Most dinosaurs, like other reptiles, are covered in scales. However, the discovery of feathered dinosaur fossils has proved that many dinosaurs were covered in feathers rather than scales and that the skeletal features of these feathered dinosaurs are very similar to those of primitive birds, providing strong evidence for the hypothesis that birds originated from dinosaurs. This exhibition area shows the transformation process from dinosaurs into birds by playing a popular science video - Flying Dinosaurs to the Sky, birds’ fossils, and restoring models.
Mammals are mostly warm-blooded and viviparous vertebrates covered with full-body hair. They have a fast speed and diaphragms. They are named for their ability to lactate through the mammary gland. Mammals are also known as beasts. The extinction of dinosaurs in the late Cretaceous period created an opportunity for the survival and development of mammals and ended the 160 million years of “oppression” of dinosaurs to the ancestors of mammals, marking a new evolutionary history of mammals. Since then, mammals began to diversify. This exhibition area mainly shows the origin, classification, and evolution of mammals. It features exquisite exhibits such as the stegodon orientalis.
Yanjinggou Fauna, Wanzhou
After many excavations and studies, Yanjinggou Fauna in Wanzhou has become the birthplace of Mammals in the Neogene Period research in China, the most abundant area of pleistocene fossils in South China and the typical representative producing area of mammals fossils in the Neogene Period buried in caves in South China. It is the origin of many paleontological fossil model specimens, such as ancient Cuon alpinus javanicus, Megatapirus augustus, Bibos gaurus grangeri, Capricornis sumatraensis, Arctonyx collaris, Rhizomys troglodyter. The fossils of Yanjinggou Fauna have thus become important materials for the research and comparison of Mammals in the Neogene Period in South China and other regions in Southeast Asia. This exhibition area shows the prosperity and diversity of Yanjinggou Fauna by using a large number of paleontological model racks and fossils and has exhibits such as Megatapirus augustus, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, and Ailuropoda melanoleuca baconi.
Evolution of Human Beings
The origin of human beings has always been a popular topic. At present, the earliest “human beings” discovered are Chadians in Africa, about 7 million years ago. In recent years, archaeological evidence shows that Chongqing is the densest and most continuous among many prehistoric cultural sites in the Yangtze River Basin. The ancient human sites found in Chongqing can establish a general framework of human evolution and cultural succession from 2.5 million years ago to the present, which shows that Chongqing is one of the most important evolutionary centers of human beings in East Asia. The Wushan Longgupo Site in Chongqing represents the earliest ancient human remains in East Asia. This exhibition area mainly displays the evolution process of human beings and important ancient human remains in Chongqing.