Zhucheng week: starting with Shantungosaurus

Yes I’m back from Zhucheng, home of you-know-who and of course, the most magical bone in China. Previously I’ve been in a complex position of being unwilling and sort of unable to show much off about what is going on in and around these fossil sites, but as publications start to appear and the museum / display sections begin to get completed, then I can do a little better than things like this skull picture.

Currently there are three major excavations of bones going on at Zhucheng, two that all but abut one another and another just a few hundred meters away, plus a large trackway site a good few km further out. Between them these are yielding *thousands* of bones and hundreds of tracks. This place is going to keep palaeontologists busy for a very long time. Between the tyrannosaur and hadrosaur work, I’ve now been out there four or five times and each visit brings new surprises. Major excavations of fossils aside, numerous buildings for visitors, display and construction as well as work on the material continue to spring up.

Most of this will likely be completed late this summer with at least one ‘museum’ building opening soon (they are planning a whole series, based around the quarries themselves). Still an impressive (if temporary) visitors centre is now open and coupled with the existing small museum in the centre of town, I’m in a position to show off some what what has been going on here. Since the Musings has been a bit quiet of late, I thought I’d spread this out over the whole week with themed posts on various aspects of the place and the displays (sorry, not many actual bones will be coming).

Here, very obviously, I’m starting with some mounts of the colossal Shantungosaurus. A massive hadrosaur which dominates these beds and makes up the vast majority of the bones found here. It’s probably hard to get a real sense of scale, but in short, they are sodding huge. You might just be able to spot me between a couple of them in one of this last image as a sense of scale.

15 Responses to “Zhucheng week: starting with Shantungosaurus”

  1. 1 BJ Nicholls 04/07/2011 at 1:37 am

    The mounts make for rather uninteresting displays postures, and the hadrosaurids look like they’re hanging limp while being held by a giant, invisible hand.

  2. 2 Christopher 04/07/2011 at 7:09 am

    Oh my goodness. I’d heard that it was big but that’s . . . BIG. How much of that is bone/casts, and how much is sculpted to fill in the gaps?

    • 3 David Hone 04/07/2011 at 8:16 am

      Everything mounted in there is a cast. But most of it is based on casts of existing pieces or modelled on them. The available material covers pretty much the whole skeleton, but of course based on numerous individuals (as you’ll see tomorrow).

  3. 4 Zhen 06/07/2011 at 3:55 pm

    I have a curious question. Why are the tails still reconstructed with them dragging on the ground? Someone told me it’s because they wanted to save room in any way they can, so they keep the tails down.

  4. 6 Yafet F. 24/12/2011 at 1:37 am

    I was wondering what species of hadrosaurids lived alongside Shantungosaurus? I already know a few like Tsintaosaurus and Saurolophus, but what others and also can you list the Hadrosaurid species that live in Asia? Thanks.

    • 7 David Hone 24/12/2011 at 10:36 am

      Hi, sorry I’m really not an ornithischian worker and I don’t know my hadrosaurs that well. I should take a look in a decent book on dinosaurs, or actually this kind of basic information (time and location) data is generally very accurate on Wikipedia so take a look through the hadrosaurs listed there.

  5. 10 Yafet F. 25/12/2011 at 10:13 pm

    But there not all Shantungosaurus’s skeletons on that picture,don’t they had names on them?

    • 11 David Hone 26/12/2011 at 9:10 am

      It’s all the same stuff. Look at my photos above and you can see the same mounted animal in the background.

      • 12 Yafet F. 28/12/2011 at 11:28 pm

        I see, I think your pictures are during the construction stage while the one I showed is the final, I still don’t think there all the same species( since some look more Iguanodont-like than Hadrosaur-like) but I’ll find out. Thanks for your help!

  6. 13 lenorelook 17/10/2012 at 5:21 am

    Hi Dave, Great photos from Zhucheng! I’m a children’s author, and I will be in Zhucheng at the end of October 2012 to research my next book. Is it possible to help out at one of the excavation sites? Or to observe at the sites?Please let me know. Thanks.

    • 14 David Hone 17/10/2012 at 8:59 am


      It’s been well over a year since I was last there so I don’t know quite what is going on. The general excavations are complete and for understandable reasons few places let the public get involved so I think you can rule that out. Certainly one of the three new planned museums is open at the site, and the old building in the town centre is still going with various things on display there. As to what’s happened to the rest I can’t say, but they have generally been very good and giving access to the public while they build it all, so you’ll see plenty I’m sure.


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