The Zigong Dinosaur Museum, located in Zigong City, is one of the world's three largest dinosaur museums and the first specialized dinosaur museum in China. Located 11 kilometers (7miles) from Zigong City, the Zigong Dinosaur Museum which opened in 1987, covers an area of over 25,000 square meters. The museum is located at the Da Shanpu dinosaur fossils groups site has the world's largest collection of dinosaur fossils from the mid-Jurassic Period. Historically, Zigong City was famous for its salt production, but has in modern times become famous for its large deposits of dinosaur fossils. There are over 40 sites around with city at which dinosaur remains have been found from different time periods. The dinosaur fossils found at the Da Shanpu site were first discovered in 1972. In an area of over 3,000 square meters, more than 100 different dinosaur remains have been excavated. The fossils date from the Meso-Jurassic Period. Only twenty percent of the world's dinosaur fossils are from the Jurassic Period, and most of them are from the later period making these mid-Jurassic Period fossils particularly valuable.
According to paleontological investigations, Zigong was located near a large lake during the Jurassic Period. The climate was tropical and humid making a perfect environment for plant life. It was the ideal location for dinosaurs to live. The Da Shanpu area, where the museum is located, was a sand shoal. The dinosaurs that died here were quickly buried by mud and sand on the shoal. Over millions of years, a very large number of dinosaur specimens accumulated in the shoal, and after a period of 100 to 200 million years, the dinosaur's bones were transformed into fossils.
The majority of the fossils on exhibit have been excavated from the immediate area. The museum is divided into three main exhibitions:
The first exhibition introduces basic knowledge such as fossils, botanical evolution, geologic periods, and the evolution of dinosaurs.
The second exhibition introduces the dinosaurs from the Zigong City area. This exhibition hall is a large spacious open area where reconstructed fossil skeletons are exhibited. The largest reconstructed fossil skeleton is the Tianfuensis, which stood over 20 meters (66 feet) long.
The third exhibition is the actual site of the dinosaur fossils. From a large view space, visitors can look down on the dinosaur fossils in their original setting. From another area, visitors to the Zigong Dinosaur Museum can actually touch the fossils of ancient dinosaurs, and see the circumstances that created them.
The Zigong Dinosaur Museum has been named "One of the forty best and most famous Chinese scenic tour sites" by the Chinese National Tourism Bureau.