Beipiaoniao Aves Fossil Nature Reserve
Beipiao Aves Fossil Nature Reserve was established in 1997 with the designation of Liaoning Province. It accounts for 4630 hectares for the protection of Protarchaeopteryx, Sinosauropteryx and Confuciusornitnidae.
The nature reserve is situated in mountainous regions and areas of hills with an altitude of 449.3 meters. It is of great importance for the complete reserve of diversified fossils and Mesozoic Stratum. Currently, over 250 pieces of Aves fossils (including 11 genus and 14 species have been unearthed continuously, among which the fossils of Protarchaeopteryx and Sinosauropteryx are recognized as the ancestor of Aves. They are much older than Archaeopteryx (found in Germany) which appeared almost in the same age with Confuciusornitnidae. This discovery has fundamentally dethroned the status of Archaeopteryx as the forefather of Aves, and contributed a lot to the solution of theoretical problems involving the origin of Aves and their evolution— one of the four mysteries in phylogeny of life. It surprised the circle of science world widely.
Beipiao Aves Fossil Nature Reserve boats not only the collection of important Aves fossils, but fossils of many other animals compassing six divisions, fourteen classes and twenty orders. There are still fossils of reptile, pisces, bivalves, insects, gastropod, egg and foot-print, covering three divisions, eight classes, forty-six genus and eighty-three species. Fossils of vegetation ranging from fern to well-evolved angiosperm involve two divisions, three sub-divisions, six classes and wood, germ and sporule pollen plants. The nature reserve is unique and unparallel in terms of the number and diversity of reserved fossils. According to experts, Beipiao Aves Fossil Nature Reserve is probably the origin and evolution center of fish and some insects, as well as the cradle and key evolution location of Aves. The establishment of Beipiao Aves Fossil Nature Reserve is of great sense for scientific research on the evolution of life from ocean to land and from water to air.