Published: 15:45, June 13, 2024
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Museum gives glimpse into distant past
By Wang Qian
The exhibition highlights a selection of objects, including a skeleton of a giant sea turtle from the Late Cretaceous of Morocco, approximately 66 to 70 million years ago. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Highlighting a selection of objects acquired in the past two years that exemplify the National Natural History Museum's collecting vision and strategies, A Symphony of Nature — An Exhibition on Selected Collection Accessioned in 2022 and 2023 kicked off on June 5 at the museum in Beijing.

The exhibition aims to celebrate its first anniversary as the National Natural History Museum, changed from the Beijing Museum of Natural History on June 5 last year. It has 209 items selected from the new collection of more than 40,000 since 2022. Most are on display for the first time.

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"These precious specimens and artworks can help visitors better understand the evolution of life and our planet, raising public awareness of environmental protection," Zhang Yuguang, deputy director of the museum, says.

The exhibition highlights a selection of objects, including a fossil of 21 trilobites. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Running until July 21, the exhibition is divided into 10 sections, including geological minerals, life in water, plants and animals.

With a collection of more than 401,600 historical and current specimens and artworks and a history of more than 70 years, the National Natural History Museum has actively played an essential role in scientific research, developing diversified learning programs and deepening international communication, according to Zhang.

In the section, An Epic of Life, a giant sea turtle skeleton (Alienochelys selloumi) from the Late Cretaceous of Morocco, approximately 66 to 70 million years ago, is a rare fossil more than 3 meters long, according to Gao Lihong from the museum's Earth sciences department.

"The extinct genus of sea turtle is a relative of the modern leatherback turtle," Gao says, adding that as far as she knows, the well-preserved skeleton with 70 percent completion is the only one in China.

The exhibition highlights a selection of objects, including animal specimens. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Besides the turtle skull, a fossil of 21 trilobites showcasing rare preservation forms has been unveiled to the public. Trilobites, the first dominant form of complex life on earth, are a group of extinct marine arthropods that first appeared around 521 million years ago, shortly after the beginning of the Cambrian period, living through the majority of the Palaeozoic Era, for nearly 300 million years.

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Gao says all the items on display have been carefully selected to give a glimpse into our planet's distant past.

As a popular attraction exploring life on Earth in the capital, the 23,000-square-meter museum has some 1.8 million visits every year. Meanwhile, a new location covering a total area of 57,700 sq m has been selected along the south of Beijing's Central Axis.