DINOSAURS, MAOTAI AND THE DANXIA AREAS OF GUIZHOU

FANJING MOUNTAIN

Fanjing Mountain (50 kilometers northwest of Tongren and 400 kilometers northeast of Guiyang) is a beautiful mountain with one of the most stunning natural-religious sights in the world — the "Pile of 10,000 Books"— a steep stone pillar supporting a huge square rock a pair of temples linked together by a bridge over a narrow cleft in the spectacular rock pillar. The mountain’s highest point — Mount Phoenix — is the tallest peak of the Wuling Mountains, reaching an elevation of 2,570 meters (8,430 feet). The region comprises three contiguous areas: Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve,Yinjiang Yangxi Provincial Nature Reserve, and a small area of National Non-Commercial Forest.

Fanjing Mountain (Fanjingshan) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018 and has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1986. According to UNESCO: “ Fanjingshan ranges in altitude between 500 meters and 2,570 meters above sea level, favouring highly diverse types of vegetation and relief. It is an island of metamorphic rock in a sea of karst, home to many plant and animal species that originated in the Tertiary period, between 65 million and 2 million years ago. The property’s isolation has led to a high degree of biodiversity with endemic species, such as the Fanjingshan Fir (Abies fanjingshanensis) and the Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi), and endangered species, such as the Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus), the Forest Musk Deer (Moschus berezovskii) and Reeve’s Pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesii). Fanjingshan has the largest and most contiguous primeval beech forest in the subtropical region.

Fanjingshan became a sacred Buddhist site early in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and has hosted four imperial nunneries, 48 Great Enlightenment nunneries, and the Huguo and Zhengguo Buddhist temples.. Rites to pay homage to Maitreya (Future Buddha) are held regulary, The mountains is particularly lovely when it shrouded in mist and engulfed in a sea of clouds. Green vegetation climbs the steep cliffs with caverns and ancient bridges. Those whose timing is just right can observe the mysterious spectacles of Buddha's light and the projection of human shadows on the fog. Villages occupied by Tujia, Miao, Dong and Qiang live at the foot of the mountain.

Fanjing Mountain national nature reserve cover 567 square kilometers. It enjoys a reputation of being the “Ecological Kingdom”, and the plant and animal gene database. Of all the animals and plants under state protection, dove trees, henry emmenopterys, Chinese tuliptree, Guizhou and doll fish are the most representative. In the scenic zone, tourist can appreciate the green peaks rising one higher than another, hanging waterfalls and forests with a coverage rate of 95 percent.

Travel Information: Best time to go: March to November; Admission: 110 yuan per person in peak-season (March 1-November 30), and 90 yuan per person in low-season (December 1-February 28); Getting There: You can take a bus to Fanjing Mountain at the Tongren Railway Station, or follow the transfer route: Yuping Railway Station-Tongren Bus Station-Jiangkou Bus Station-Fanjing Mountain.

Fanjing Mountain Ecosystem

According to UNESCO: Fanjingshan is located in a monsoonal climatic context and is an important source of water for the surrounding landscapes and beyond, with some 20 rivers and streams feeding the Wujiang and Yuanjiang River systems, both of which ultimately drain into the Yangtze River.

“The property consists of two parts, namely the Jian Nan subtropical evergreen forests ecoregion (64 percent) and the Guizhou Plateau broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregion (36 percent). The highest peak, Mt Fenghuangshan, has an elevation of 2,570 meters above sea level (masl) and the property covers and an altitudinal range of more than 2,000 meters. The resulting vertical stratification of vegetation falls within three major altitudinal vegetation zones: evergreen broadleaf forest (<1,300 masl), mixed evergreen and deciduous broadleaf forest (1,300-2,200 masl) and mixed deciduous broadleaf and conifer and scrub forest (>2,200 masl).

“Fanjingshan is an island of metamorphic rock in a sea of karst and is home to many ancient and relict plant and animal species which originated in the Tertiary period, between 65 million and 2 million years ago. The property’s geologic and climatic characteristics have shaped its flora which behaves as if it were on an island. This has led to a high degree of endemism, with a total of 46 locally endemic plant species, 4 endemic vertebrate species and 245 endemic invertebrate species. The most prominent endemic species are Fanjingshan Fir (Abies fanjingshanensis-EN) and Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi-EN), both of which are entirely restricted to the property. Three species of Fagus (F. longipetiolata, F. lucida, and F. engleriana) are the dominant species of what is understood to be the largest primary beech forest in the subtropical region.

“A total of 3,724 plant species have been recorded in the property, an impressive 13 percent of China’s total flora. The property is characterized by an exceptionally high richness in bryophytes as well as one of the distribution centres for gymnosperms in China. The diversity of invertebrates is also very high with 2,317 species. A total of 450 vertebrate species are found inside the property. Fanjingshan being the only habitat in the world for Fanjingshan Fir and Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey, as well as 64 plant and 38 animal species that are listed as globally threatened, including the tree Bretschneidera sinensis (EN), Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus-CR), Forest Musk Deer (Moschus berezovskii-EN), Reeves’s Pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesii-VU), and Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus-VU).

“Fanjingshan is characterized by an exceptional richness in bryophytes, with 791 species, of which 74 are endemic to China. The property also has one of the richest concentrations of gymnosperms in the world, with 36 species. A significant number of endemic species are distributed inside the property, including 46 local endemic and 1,010 Chinese endemic plant species, as well as 4 locally endemic vertebrate species. The most notable of these is the endangered Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey, which is found only in Fanjingshan and nowhere else in the world. Another prominent endemic species is Fanjingshan Fir, which is also restricted to this property.

“The property contains 64 plant and 38 animal species that are listed as Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN) or Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List, most notably Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey, Chinese Giant Salamander, Forest Musk Deer, Reeves’s Pheasant, Asiatic Black Bear, and Bretschneidera sinensis.

Danxia Landforms

Fanjingshan and Chishui belongs to the Danxia physiognomy of geology. In 2010, Mount Danxia Landforms were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to UNESCO: “ China Danxia is the name given in China to landscapes developed on continental red terrigenous sedimentary beds influenced by endogenous forces (including uplift) and exogenous forces (including weathering and erosion). The inscribed site comprises six areas found in the sub-tropical zone of southwest China. They are characterized by spectacular red cliffs and a range of erosional landforms..These rugged landscapes have helped to conserve sub-tropical broad-leaved evergreen forests, and host many species of flora and fauna, about 400 of which are considered rare or threatened.

“China Danxia is an impressive and unique landscape of great natural beauty. The reddish conglomerate and sandstone that form this landscape of exceptional natural beauty have been shaped into spectacular peaks, pillars, cliffs and imposing gorges. Together with the contrasting forests, winding rivers and majestic waterfalls, China Danxia presents a significant natural phenomenon. China Danxia contains a wide variety of well developed red-beds landforms such as peaks, towers, mesas, cuestas, cliffs, valleys, caves and arches. Being shaped by both endogenous forces (including uplift) and exogenous forces (including weathering and erosion), China Danxia provides a range of different aspects of the phenomenon of physical landscape developed from continental (terrestrial) reddish conglomerate and sandstone in a warm, humid monsoon climate, illustrating both the range of landforms in relation to the forces and processes that formed them. The component parts represent the best examples of "least eroded" to "most eroded" Danxia landforms, displaying a clear landform sequence from "young" through "mature" to "old age", and with each component site displaying characteristic geomorphologic features of a given stage.

“China Danxia is a serial property comprising six component parts (Chishui, Taining, Langshan, Danxiashan, Longhushan, and Jianglangshan) found in the sub-tropical zone of southeastern China within approximately 1700 kilometers crescent shaped arc from Guizhou Province in the west to Zhejiang Province in the east. The process of its development is characterised by a particular rock sequence, tectonic background, climatic conditions, erosional processes and landforms and these processes have been presented as an interim model.

“Due to the combined endogenic (tectonic uplift) and exogenic (climatic, erosion, weathering) forces, and other factors, the Danxia landforms have been developed in red sedimentary sequences continuously from the Neogene until the present. The six component parts represent the most important examples of "least eroded" to "most eroded" Danxia landforms, providing a range of different aspects of the phenomenon, and illustrate both the range of landforms in relation to the forces and processes that formed them, together with a range of associated landscapes.”

Chishui Danxia Landform

Chishui Danxia (near Chishui town, 450 kilometers north of Guiyang and 230 kilometers south-southwest of of Chongqing) is a stunning landform with a spectacular red cliff, narrow ridge, unusual rock formations, massive caves, beautiful Danxia canyons, forests and waterfalls. The main Danxia landform is located in the southern part of Chishui City and is divided into two sections; the larger eastern section, shaped mainly by the erosion of Chishui River, and the western section, which mainly consists of the plateau canyon.

The Chishui Danxia landform is situated where the Sichuan Basin meets the Northern Guizhou Plateau, an area of with plentiful rain. As a result, the danxia landscape is mixed with luxuriant vegetation. The Chishui Danxia was created by the strong and intermittent Cenozoic uplifts of the Himalayan Orogeny and the shaped by precipitation from the Asian Monsoon. Forests cover more than 90 percent of the area. The landform covers 1,200 square kilometers, making it the largest Danxia landform.

Sights in the Chishui Danxia include 76-meter-high, 80-meter-wide Shizhangdong Waterfall; Wuzhufeng (Five Pillar Peak) Scenic Spot; Shizhangdong (Shizhang Cave) Waterfalls; Swallow Rock National Forest Park; Bamboo Sea National Forest Park; the Ancient Town of Bing'an; the historical site where the Red Army crossed the Chishui River four times; and China Jurassic Park, the biggest nature reserve and living environment of alsophila spinulosa in the world.

Travel Information: Chishui is located at the northwest part of Guizhou Province on of Chishui River near Sichuan Province. Best time to go: May to October; Admission: 60 yuan per person for Shizhangdong (Shizhang Cave) Waterfalls, 30 yuan per person for Sidong Creek, 50 yuan per person for Wuzhufeng (Five Pillar Peak) Scenic Spot, 30 yuan per person for Yangjiayan, 25 yuan per person for China's Jurassic Park, 25 yuan per person for Swallow Rock National Forest Park, 25 yuan per person for Bamboo Sea National Forest Park, and 20 yuan per person for Ancient Town of Bing'an; Getting There: You can take a bus to each of the major scenic spots from Chishui Old Bus Station or Chishui Long-haul Tourism Bus Station.

Bing'an Ancient Town ( on the Chishui River) was an important gateway between Sichuan and Guizhou during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Before the newly constructed suspension bridge oepned the town up to the outside world the town was only accessible by boat. This isolation helped preserve the town's traditional culture and architecture. Because flat land was limited, residents' built houses on slopes adapted existing technologies of stilts with wooden frames. The result is a a large number of three-to-five storey houses supported by hundreds of logs. seen. There are four stone gates on each side of the town, a reminder of the days when the town had to protect itself against brigands. The new suspension bridge spans the Chishui River. Standing in the middle part of the bridge, you may get a panoramic view of Bing'an town and the lofty mountains around.

Zunyi

Zunyi (130 kilometers north of Guiyang) is regarded as a Red Tourism Sight. It is where the Zunyi Conference, Mao consolidated his leadership of the Red Army, took place. Guizhou's Long March sites include Loushanguan, Chishui and Maotai.

Zunyi is a prefecture-level city in northern Guizhou province situated between the provincial capital Guiyang to the south and Chongqing to the north, also bordering Sichuan to the northwest. Along with Guiyang and Liupanshui, it is one of the most important cities of the province. The built-up (or metro) area made of three urban districts of the city, Huichuan, Honghuagang, and Bozhou, had a population of 1,095,189 people; and the whole prefecture, including 14 county-level administration area as a whole, has a population of 6,127,009 at the 2010 census.

Zunyi is known for being a place where Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping, visited to enjoy its fiery hot local cuisine, including yangrou fen (spicy hot rice noodle soup with lamb and bean curd). This is made with Lai fen, a kind of thick wide round rice noodle that is made locally (at a factory in the town of Gaoping), and is difficult to find elsewhere. When the annual Guizhou Famous Liquor and Wine Festival opens in Zunyi City, Maotai Town of Renhuai City and Shizhangdong of Chishui City during July and August, tourists can have the opportunity to taste some famous local liquors.

Maotai

Maotai (100 kilometers west-northwest of Zunyi, 200 kilometers north of Guiyang) is where maotai was invented and a large portion of China’s maotai. is produced. Maotai (mao-t'ai) is the most popular brand of baijiu. Also known as kaoliang), it originated from a village in Renhuai County in Guizhou Province. Made from sorghum and wheat, it is nasty 130-proof stuff with a taste that has been compared to rubbing alcohol and lighter fluid. New York Times correspondent R.W. Apple Jr. wrote it "smells a lot like JP-4, the stuff that powers the engines on Air Force One, and its only slightly more drinkable."

Baiju is a clear spirit, usually made from sorghum. It ranges in price from as little as five yuan---less than 50p---to tens of thousands of yuan for vintage bottles of the best brands. It is a staple of formal or celebratory dinners, often coupled with beer. It is also notorious for causing inebriation, since it is 80 to 120 proof and frequently consumed in large quantities. Baijiu is particularly associated with Beijing. It is generally clear like vodka but are much more potent, and has a reputation for making those who drink it "insensible." Baiju makers have names like Jinguchen or Golden Green Spring. Maotai is a kind of baijiu

Maotai is usually served in small glasses and is said to be best consumed at room temperature.Honored as the official “national wine” of China, it is commonly used in toasts. Before a national television audience of millions, U.S. President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai toasted each other three times with cups of maotai. Nixon cringed noticeably when he drank it. Ronald, Reagan, Ho Chi Minh, Tito, Kim Il Sung and John Major were also toasted with maotai as guests of honor on state trips to China. In a meeting in 1974, Henry Kissinger told Deng Xiaoping, “I think if we drink enough Maotai. We can solve anything." Deng replied, “Then when I go back to China, I must increase production of it."

Mao-tai was formulated in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).The alcoholic content of maotai is reportedly so high that many Chinese will tell you never to light a match near it. Sold in white bottles with a distinctive diagonal red label, it is sometimes used as paint thinner and people sometimes carry it in the trunk of their car in case they run out of gasoline.

Maotai is quite expensive. A a porcelain bottle of the stuff sells for $220 or more. Efforts by the government to cap the price at $160 have been unsuccessful. Because it so expensive it is a common guanxi present and is sometimes given as an outright bribe. It is also widely counterfeited. By one estimate 90 percent of the Kweichow Moutai sold in China in 2010 was fake. Even in the town of Maotai locals sell an additive they say makes home-brewed baiju tastes like the real thing. [Source: Leo Lewis, The Times, November 12. 2011]

In 1992, a merchant was executed for trademark infringement because he labeled ordinary moonshine as maotai. In Taiwan, maotai is called gaoliang liquor. The Taiwanese island of Quemoy is reportedly the source of the best stuff. In China, Renhuai in Guizhou is still renowned for producing the best and most fiery maotai

Kweichow Moutai Factory Town

Leo Lewis wrote in The Times: “As you descend into the secluded village of Maotai, the vapor of the distillery reaches up from the valley and scrapes at the throat. The taste of China's most famous alcoholic drink is even more belligerent. That assessment is not welcome. To the unconverted,Kweichow Moutai may have all the appeal of meths, but to hundreds of millions of Chinese, its 53 per cent alcohol “baijiu” is the pinnacle of connoisseurship." [Source: Leo Lewis, The Times, November 12. 2011

The plant of Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd. in located in Maotai Township of Renhuai, Guizhou Province, southwest China. The Mouai company gets its name from the pre-revolutionary name of the village where the drink is made. In 1951, after the Communists came to power, several factories were combined into a state-owned company and the party and the military have claimed 40 percent of the output ever since.

In 2011, the Moutai factory celebrated its 60th anniversary as a state enterprise. Celebrities, top officials and VIPs descended on the town of Maotai for a three-hour extravaganza and the Moutai company spent $80 million to secure coveted 10 second advertising slots before the 7:00pm news broadcast on Chinese New Year.

Moutai has evicted 15,000 residents in the town to make way for new factories to keep up with ambitious output targets. In addition so much of the areas's water’said to be secret behind maotai's flavor---is used to make the liquor, the river that runs through the town is so shallow to longer support boats as it had in the past

Visiting Maotai

One traveler wrote on CCTV: On our way from the city of Renhuai to Maotai, we could smell the fragrance of wine becoming stronger as we drew nearer. We found wine jars and large wine containers in front of every house on both sides of the road. A local official who accompanies us said that the wine made by households here is mainly sold to wine factories in neighboring Sichuan province. If a family can produce two tons of wine, they'll have more than enough money to support themselves for the rest of their lives. [Source: August 10, 2008, CCTV China.org]

“The world renowned Maotai Wine Company takes up around two thirds of the town's area and over one sixth of the town's population to work for the company. It is believed that Maotai possesses a unique climate and vegetation that contributes to the unparalleled taste of the drink. In the 1970s, the local government attempted to build another Maotai wine company in nearby Zunyi in order to increase the drink's production. They employed the exact same materials Maotai wine is made from, such as sorghum and water from the Chishui river. But the factory failed to make wine of the same quality.

“People say the unique geographical location and climate accountted for this. Even today, the Maotai Wine Company produces only twenty thousand tons of wine a year. As the wine of China, most of its output goes to governmental institutes, armies and overseas consumers. In addition to the Maotai Wine Company, the town also boasts over 100 private wine factories. Most of them developed from workshops. Since Maotai wine is higher in price and limited in quantity, only a small number of people in China have the chance to drink it. However, private wine factories in Maotai can produce wine of almost the same quality as Maotai Wine Company enjoys, and at a much cheaper price thanks to the favorable geographical locations and traditional wine-making skills which are the same as Maotai Wine Company.

“Wu Jiagao, owner of a private wine factory told us that his factory used to have only ten employees, but now it has 200. The wine it produces is not only well received in Guizhou, but also all over China. Numerous small wine shops line the streets of Maotai. With white walls and black-tiled roofs, the shops are made in the traditional Hui style. Their wine, home-made or bought from small family wine workshops, is contained in jars and sold at prices ranging from 20 to 200 yuan per kilogram. More often than not, we saw the shop owners, leisurely sitting on cane chairs or lying on a sofa, selling their wine. Its hard to tell if they are drunk from their quality wine or from their easy life.”

Wine Culture Museum

Guizhou Maotai Company runs China's biggest wine museum — the Wine Cultural Museum. It occupies an area of 3,000 square meters and has seven exhibition halls for different periods. There are many fascinating displays about the production of Chinese wine throughout the centuries. It has hundreds of artifacts about the country's wine culture and about Maotai in particular. The exhibits cover folklore, history, the economy, literature, art and medicine and cater the tastes of tourists and wine enthusiasts alike. [Source: CRI August 13, 2009]

According to CRI: "Maotai has a long history of being brewed, dating back to the Han Dynasty. More than 2,000 years ago, a type of fruit liquor was produced, which was called 'ju jiang'. It was sweet and tasty. One court official took a sample of it to Han Wudi, the emperor of the Han Dynasty, who called it 'honey-like nectar.' It became the first recorded case of Maotai," our guide gave us a history lesson about Maotai.

“The museum traces Maotai's history of development, from a simple wine maker to a world-renowned liquor brandname, through paintings, old photos and some famous historic models and statues. As early as in the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Maotai became the first excellent wine brand in large-scale production. It had an annual output of 170 tons, which was very rare in China's wine-brewing history.

“Before 1949, there were three main wine factories in Guizhou, whose products were called Hua Mao, Wang Mao and Lai Mao. Among them, Hua Mao was the predecessor of today's Maotai liquor. Three families dominated the production and sale of Maotai for about 50 years. Later, the government bought their companies, and today the drink is produced by state-owned Guizhou Moutai Company.

“Maotai has gained recognition from national leaders for its contribution to China's diplomacy and economic growth. It was often served at National Day celebrations. And today, Maotai is still served when top-level foreign officials are received by the Chinese government. As the national drink of China, Maotai has won numerous international awards. The earliest prize can be traced back to 1915 when Maotai liquor was featured at the Panama World Exposition and won the gold medal.

Maotai is not only a wine enjoyed by the Chinese, but also a favorite among socialites, politicians, diplomats and foreign dignitaries. There is a well-known legend recalling a meeting between English comedic actor and film director Charlie Chaplin and former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Both men were known to be able to drink large amounts of liquor. Chaplin was very fond of the Chinese brew and told the press it was the "drink of real men." And as the Chinese like say: "If we are good friends, then bottoms up; if not, then just take a sip."”

Gelao Ancestor Cave Tombs and Stone Coffins

Sanhui Village (Daozhen County,250 kilometers northwest of Zunyi) is the home of the Qingqiu Cliff tomb groups. Stone coffins were typically made of stone plates, usually buried in an earth mound, on top of a mountain, besides a river, or even in the forest. There, orderly arranged caves have been cut on a steep cliff, each cave 1.2 meters high, 1.7 to 2.6 meters wide and about two meters deep. Outer coffins are made up of stone plates in the caves. The number of the plates is usually odd, 7, 9 or even dozens of pieces. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, kepu.net.cn ~]

In ancient times, stone coffins and cave tombs were widely used and still remain in some places. There are two kinds of cave tombs: ones in natural cave and ones in man-made cave. Some of the man-made caves are cut into cliffs, while some are built with stone plates, lime and bamboo sticks, or clay bricks. Those built with stone plates come in a variety of forms: such as "document-containing barrel", "rice-washing bamboo basket", "bright hall", "resounding hall" and "dark outer coffin". In this kind of grave father and son or mother-and daughter-in-law can be buried together. At stone coffin sites, stones are piled up as symbols of the earth tomb, while such auspicious trees as boxwood and cassia bark are planted at the grave mound and before the grave. ~

Wang Yinliang's tomb in Daozhen County is built of bluestone, the front wall of which is carved into a memorial archway. The whole tomb is like a pagoda, 5.5 meters high and 6 meters wide, consisting of three floors. The ground floor has three doors, on which are engraved historic characters, flowers, herbs, birds and beasts, and on the end of the eaves are embossed phoenixes. The second floor has four pillars and three doors, with engraved folk stories on them. On the third floor, entwined dragons are carved on the two pillars in the middle, while the two sides feature engraved phoenixes spreading their wings. The sculpture are very exquisite and carved on a steep cliff, as if by te hands of immortals not men. ~

Dinosaurs in Guizhou

Lurking Dragon Hill in Guizhou is so named because of the high number of “dragon bones” found there. Peking University paleontologist Ceb Zhuxian told National Geographic, “It was here that local people used to find these small dragons. They didn't known they were fossils, but they liked them because the dragon is a sign of good luck." Most of the fossils found belong to 12- to 14-inch long marine creatures called Keichousarus hui, that look like miniature Lochness monsters.

Many Chinese believe the dinosaur bones come from dragons not dinosaurs. Dragons are symbols of good luck and the consumption of pulverized "dragon" bones is believed to make a man strong and bring him good luck and are used as a traditional Chinese medicine for stomach ailments. Many good bones have been pulverized into medicines. Scientists are trying to convince farmers to turn in their bones to palaeontologists not Chinese medicine traders.

Guizhou Triassic Fossil Sites

Guizhou Triassic Fossil Sites were nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019.. The site is composed of three components — 1) Panxian Fauna, 2) Xingyi Fauna-Wusha and Xingyi Fauna-Dingxiao and 3) Guanling Biota — covering 82.43 square kilometers. Highlights of the sites:
1) Panxian Fauna (618 hectares) (E104 53 57.206 N25 31 36.880) in Panzhou City, Liupanshui City, 100 kilometers west of Guiyang, featuring the oldest marine vertebrate fauna in Anisian, Middle Triassic.
2A) Xingyi Fauna-Wusha (585 hectares) ((E104 46 48.633 N25 10 19.303), Xingyi City, 2B) Xingyi Fauna-Dingxiao (118 hectares) E105 0 46.870 N25 8 56.532), Dingxiao District, both in Southwestern Guizhou Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, 300 kilometers southwest of of Guiyang, and mainly feature by unique fauna appeared in late Ladinian, Middle Triassic.
3) Guanling Biota (676 hectares) E105 25 33.328 N25 53 21.192), Guanling Buyi and Miao Autonomous County, Anshun City, 70 kilometers southwest of Guiyang, with biota composed of large ichthyosaurs and crinoids in Carnian, Late Triassic. The oldest turtle were also found here.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Guizhou Triassic Fossil Sites “is a series of fossil Lägerstattens composed of rich, complete and well preserved early Mesozoic fossils including marine reptiles, fishes, crinoids, ammonoids, bivalves, brachiopods and arthropods, etc. The nominated property is located in the subtropical region. The whole property shows a unique evolutionary sequence, ranging from Panxian Fauna in Anisian of Middle Triassic, to Xingyi Fauna in Ladinian, Middle Triassic and to Guanling Biota in Carnian of Late Triassic, indicating unique paleontological and paleogeography features. Guizhou Triassic Fossil Sites World Heritage Nominated Property is an outstanding physical marker of the evolution of the marine life and the ecosystem after the end-Permian Mass Extinction. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]

“The fossils are featured with high diversity, rich species, high integrity and exquisite preservation, presenting a complete evolutionary sequence of marine life in the Early Mesozoic age from the dead dreariness after mass extinction to start recovery, radiating, reaching the peak and establishing stable new Mesozoic ecosystem. Guizhou Triassic Fossil Sites, featured with special geographical location, are located at the border of two major oceans: Tethys and Panthalassic Ocean in the world, connecting West Tethys Bio-geographic Realm and east Panthalassic Ocean. The above information indicates that Guizhou Triassic Fossil Sites Nominated Property is the most important fossil origin place in Middle and Late Triassic for marine life in the world and delivers important scientific research and protection value.

“It can be seen from the paleo-biostratigraphic distribution and distribution of ecological niches that quite a few genus species in Thalattosaurians Xinpusaurus, Ichthyosaurus involving the Keihousaurus and Guanlingsaurus, and Sauropterygia including Saurophaganax etc show the affinity of Pangu Biota, while the Thalattosaurus including Xinpusaurus, the Ichthyosaur involving Mixosaurus panxianensis, Sauropterygian involving Placodonts share similar phylogenetic relationships with the taxa from Western Tethys Biota in Europe, indicating that the ancient geographical position of nominated property is the transitional zone of the Pangu Ocean and the Tethys Ocean.

“The nominated property has a special geographical location, so that it retained many important fossils, such as the Odontochelys semitestacea, Eorhynchochelys sinensis, Qianichthyosaurus zhoui, Sinocyamodus xinpuensis, Keichousaurus hui. There are over 41 marine reptiles found and reported from the nominated property, as well as a large number of crinoids, fishes, ammonites, bivalves and so on. Among them, the first collections of the "National Key Protection List of Fossils of China" included 32 species from this area. National Class I key protection fossils include 27 species, such as Odontochelys semitestacea, Mixosaurus panxianensis, Xinminosaurus, Qianichthyosaurus zhoui, Sinocyamodus xinpuensis, Psephochelys polyosteoderma and so on; National Class II key protection fossils include 2 species, they are Guizhoucoelacanthus guanlingensis, Keichousaurus hui; and the class III key protection fossils include 3 species, which are Sinamia, Birgeria liui, Guizhouamia. There are many endemic species, such as the oldest Placodontia, with the carapace undeveloped; the oldest and most primitive Mixosauridae; strange Dinocephalosaurus orientalis; ferocious Qianosuchus mixtus; and the oldest and most primitive Odontochelys semitestacea.”

History of the Guizhou Triassic Fossil Sites

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The Guizhou Panxian fossils of Anisian Age of Middle Triassic reflect the end of biological quiet period after mass extinction in Latest Permian. In marine ecosystem, a new ecological system with a four footed animal as the top predator has been appeared. The marine ecosystem has been the emergence of a new ecological system to the top predators quadruped animal, marine reptiles and fish start to radiate and has a higher diversity, ecological differentiation is obvious. Representing the marine reptiles and fish in the climax period of evolution. Triassic Latin fossils of Xingyi in Guizhou represents the end of period of radiation. The fossils of Guanling symbolizes the start of the evolution of the ocean Marine Reptiles in the stable environment and, the exhaustive recovery of biosphere. In summary, the Guizhou Triassic Fossil Sites are the most important middle and late Triassic fossil records,[Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]

“The Guizhou Triassic Fossil Sites Nominated Property is an empirical example of the dead dreariness-restoration-radiation-stability process of the marine life after end-Permian Mass Extinction as well as the origin and early evolution of marine reptiles in the Mesozoic Era. A wealth of fossil specimens were buried under the special sedimentary conditions, a large number of important paleontological fossils were preserved, providing important information on biological evolution. The reptiles recovered and marched into the ocean in the process of biological recovering and the establishment of new ecosystems after the extinction at the end of Permian. Mesozoic marine reptiles appeared, and eventually became the top predators of the ocean with over 70 percent of the surface area of the Earth. The oldest Placodus, abundant eosauropterygians, primitive Mixosaurus with medium and small sizes found in the Panxian Fauna in early stage, medium body sized Qianichthysaurus and Nothosaur appeared in middle stage, and large-sized ichthyosaurs like Guanlingsaurus, associated with specialized Cyamodus, earliest turtle, etc found in the late stage together with crinoids, ammonoids and bivalves are preserved in the nominated property, fully demonstrating the biotic recovery and ecosystem reconstruction after the mass extinction. The course shows the early evolution of marine reptiles in the Mesozoic Era and synergistic evolution process between the evolution and environment changes in biodiversities and paleogeographic changes.

“From the end of the Paleozoic to the end of the Middle Triassic, the Yangtze platform was a stable unit to develop shallow carbonate sediments. In the middle Triassic Anisian Stage, Panxian area was a typical platform and semi-enclosed shallow sea sediments. During the late Middle Triassic to the late Triassic, the collision between the Yangtze plate and the North China plate caused the whole body of former plate to uplift, which was attributable to the Indosinian movement. The main part appeared the famous Latin sea retreat, and regional sedimentary environment of the surrounding area became different. After the middle Late Triassic, the deposition of siliceous turbidite sandstone was quickly filled, and the Yangtze platform ended the deposition of shallow water carbonate. From the Middle Triassic Anisian Stage, Guizhou Panxian fauna representative of the adaptation of shallow coastal platform life, into the late Triassic latitudinal Guizhou Xingyi fauna and the late Triassic Guanling biota tour to the ocean life.

Caohai Lake

Caohai Lake (200 kilometers west of Guiyang) is the largest wintering site for migratory birds in southwestern China and one of the world's top 10 highland wetlands for bird observation. The lake is a real paradise for bird watchers, being home to over 180 species, including over 70 rare ones, such as the Black-necked Crane, Black Stork, and Hooded Crane. Black-necked Cranes are the only plateau crane in the world, considerably beautiful but highly endangered.Caohai Lake, a state-level natural reserve located in the western suburbs of Weining County, is the largest fresh water lake and the largest highland wetland in Guizhou. It's as famous as Qinghai Lake in Qinghai, and Dianchi Lake in Yunnan. Covering a water area of more than 30 square kilometers, the tranquil and beautiful lake is dubbed "The Pearl on Guizhou Plateau".

The lake, surrounded by mountains, is well-known for crystal-clear water and lush grass growing at the bottom. The natural scenery here is absolutely amazing in springtime, when the azaleas around the lake are at their brightest and the water plants are in full blossom, dotting the lake with yellow, red and white flowers. The lake offers particularly wonderful views to visitors arriving here between December and late March, when over 100,000 birds fly across the world to spend their winter here. Travel Information: Best time to go: December to late March; Admission: Free, 120 yuan for renting a boat Hours Open: 8:00am-5:00pm; Getting There: You can take a taxi from Weining County to Caohai, or walk there for about 30 minutes.

Malinghe River Canyon Scenic Area

Malinghe River Canyon Scenic Area (near Xingyi, 300 kilometers southwest of Guiyang) is known as the "Most Beautiful Scar of the Earth". This 75-kilometer-long canyon offers magnificent views of its narrow rift, deep caves, impressive waterfalls and shaped calcium sediments (calc-sinter tapestries or falls) on both faces of the steep cliffs. The ancient temples, bridges and postal roads further enhance the area's cultural charm. At its narrowest point, the canyon is only 50 meters wide, whereas its deepest point goes all the way down to 500 meters. The canyon features over 100 waterfalls, with the Tianxing Gallery, the core section, offering fabulous views of the more than 20 waterfalls stretching across 1.7 kilometers.Malinghe River Canyon Scenic Area is a state-level scenic area located at the juncture of Yunnan, Guangxi and Guizhou provinces in Xingyi City of Guizhou. It consists of the Malinghe River Canyon, Wanfenglin (Ten-Thousand-Peak Karst Forest) and Wanfeng Lake.

Rafting through the rapids of the river is a thrilling experience and a fun way to stay cool in summer t while enjoying the canyon's magnificent landscapes. Tourists can also walk the plank trail to enjoy the amazing scenery on foot. In 1997, the First China International Drift-Down Championship was held here.

Wanfenglin, which features a breathtaking view of dense and bizarrely shaped karst peaks extending for hundreds of kilometers, is ranked by Chinese National Geography as one of the six most beautiful peak forests in the country. Wangfeng Lake, an artificial lake with numerous karst peaks hiding inside, looks like a natural bonsai tree. Put together the peaks, rivers, caves, farming fields and minority villages, and you find yourself gazing out over one highly idyllic landscape.

Travel Information: Best time to go: May to October; Admission: 110 yuan per person for Tianxing Gallery, covers the cable car; 100 yuan per person for Wanfeng Forest (Western Section), and 140 yuan per person for Wangfeng Lake and Wanfeng Forest (Eastern Section). Drifting along the upper section: 138 yuan per person; middle section: 168 yuan per person; lower section: 168 yuan per person; Getting There: Take a long-distance bus from Guiyang to Xingyi, and then transfer onto a minibus to the Malinghe River Canyon.

Tusi Sites: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tusi Sites were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. According to UNESCO: “Located in the mountainous areas of southwest China, this property encompasses remains of several tribal domains whose chiefs were appointed by the central government as ‘Tusi’, hereditary rulers from the 13th to the early 20thcentury. The Tusi system arose from the ethnic minorities’ dynastic systems of government dating back to the 3rd century B.C.. Its purpose was to unify national administration, while allowing ethnic minorities to retain their customs and way of life. The sites of Laosicheng (50 kilometers west-southwest of Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province ), Tangya (Xianfeng County, Hubei Province) and Hailongtun Fortress (Gaoping Town, Zunyi City, Guizhou Province) that make up the site bear exceptional testimony to this form of governance, which derived from the Chinese civilization of the Yuan and Ming periods. [Source: UNESCO]

Distributed around the mountainous areas of southwest China are the remains of tribal domains whose leaders were appointed by the central government as ‘Tusi’, hereditary rulers of their regions from the 13th to the early 20th century. This system of administrative government was aimed at unifying national administration while simultaneously allowing ethnic minorities to retain their customs and way of life. The three sites of Laosicheng, Tangya and the Hailongtun Fortress combine as a serial property to represent this system of governance. The archaeological sites and standing remains of Laosicheng Tusi Domain and Hailongtun Fortress represent domains of highest ranking Tusi; the Memorial Archway and remains of the Administration Area, boundary walls, drainage ditches and tombs at Tangya Tusi Domain represent the domain of a lower ranked Tusi. Their combinations of local ethnic and central Chinese features exhibit an interchange of values and testify to imperial Chinese administrative methods, while retaining their association with the living cultural traditions of the ethnic minority groups represented by the cultural traditions and practices of the Tujia communities at Laosicheng.

“ Tusi sites of Laosicheng, Tangya and the Hailongtun Fortress clearly exhibit the interchange of human values between local ethnic cultures of Southwest China, and national identity expressed through the structures of the central government.” They “ are evidence of the Tusi system of governance in the Southwestern region of China and thus bear exceptional testimony to this form of governance which derived from earlier systems of ethnic minority administration in China, and to the Chinese civilisation in the Yuan, Ming and Qing periods.”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: CNTO (China National Tourist Organization), China.org, UNESCO, reports submitted to UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, China Daily, Xinhua, Global Times, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020

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