The Beijing Museum of Natural history is housed in an unpretentious building in the Yongdingmen area in the southern part of the city, just opposite the Tianqiao Department Store. As the first museum of its kind in China, it houses more than 5,000 specimens, which are displayed in the Halls of Paleontology, Zoology and Botany.
Beijing Museum of Natural History grew out of the preparation department of National Central Museum of Natural History founded in 1951. Beijing Museum of Natural History was formally named in 1962. Being the first large-scale museum of natural history founded on our own strength after new China was established, the museum bears three main functions: the specimen collection, the academic research and the science popularization of paleontology, zoology, botany and anthropology. The museum today boasts its rich collections, high-level research and ever-enlarging exhibitions. It has been one of a few museums of natural history in China and named as National Youth Science and Technology Education Base.
In 1979, the museum initiated the Chinese Association of Natural Science Museums that is playing more and more important role in the museum field today. Thereafter, Memoirs of Beijing Natural History Museum and Nature started publication in 1980. The Illustration of Biological History was edited and published in 1982. Chinese Association of Natural Science Museums, Beijing Society of Zoology and Beijing Society of Botany successively set their agencies at the museum.
The "Dinosaur World" can be divided to two parts, "Jurassic Park" and "Cretaceous Park". The "Jurassic Park" reflects the ecology sight in 140 million years ago and the dinosaurs in different types in that period, such as Mamenxi dinosaur, Tuojiang dinosaur, Lufeng dinosaur, and flesh-eater Yongchuan dinosaur and Qi dinosaur and so on.
The Ancient Animal Exhibition Room mainly displays the ancient amniotes, which uses lots of fossil specimens to illustrate the evolution of ancient animals. "Animal Exhibition Room" introduces from the lowest and most primitive unicellular animal and protozoan, which uses lots of specimen models to enlighten the spectators with the start and development road of animals.
In the center of the hall is a large petrified skeleton of a high-nosed Qingdaosaurus, so called because it was found at Qingdao, Shandong Province, and has a nose with a large bump on it. Twice as large as this is the skeleton of a Mamenchisaurus unearthed at Mamenxi Village in Sichuan Province. As a contrast to these giants the remains of a Lufengosaurus from Yunnan Province, no more than two meters high and six meters long, and those of a parrot-beaked dinosaur no larger than a cat are also on display.
The Hall of Zoology houses more than 2,000 specimens arranged to show the course of evolution from simple aquatic to complex terrestrial forms. These include a vast range of Chinese fauna, from the lynx and otter of the northeast to the peacock and parrot of the southwest; from sea dwellers such as the whale and giant clam to such terrestrial creatures as the giant panda. There are also enlarged models of protozoa and finely colored models of jellyfish and coral.
The fish specimens number in the hundreds, representing both sea and fresh-water aquatic life. Among the reptile specimens, two items catch the visitor’s eye: an enormous leatherback sea turtle and a Chinese alligator.
The museum also houses a rich collection of specimens of avian life. The hornbill, for instance, is a rare species in China. Its long scythe-like bill surmounted by a horny casqued gives it its Chinese name, "rhinoceros bird."
In the Hall of Botany, the aquarium contains a collection of various forms of algal life, including kelp, laver and agar in a range of strikingly beautiful colors.