EXPLORE CHINA’S CHENGJIANG FOSSIL SITE with this slideshow, check the location map and get all the facts and information below.

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Map showing the location of Chengjiang Fossil Site world heritage site in ChinaFactfile

Website Category: The Fossil Record

Area: 5 km2

Inscribed: 2012


  • Fossil record (viii)

Location and Values: The Chengjiang Fossil Site protects an outstanding variety of fossils from the earliest part of the Cambrian period, about 530 million years ago. These include nearly 200 species of marine animals, illustrating the rapid diversification of life on Earth at this time. They are exceptionally well preserved, showing hard and soft tissues, and stages in the development of the world’s first vertebrates.

The site is particularly important because it shows the complexity of a marine ecosystem, with a wide range of different species adapted to particular ecological niches and positions in complex food webs that included sophisticated predators.

Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2014) the conservation status of Chengjiang Fossil Site is ‘good’. The IUCN report notes that ‘The site is protected under law and relatively effectively administered by a management authority with the guidance of comprehensive management plans. Former low-level threats have been overcome, but new threats such as the illegal collection of fossils and future demand for more infrastructure development associated with growing visitor numbers will require careful management.’

Google Earth
Official UNESCO Site Details
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description

Slideshow description

Images of Chengjiang Fossil Site World Heritage Site in China

The photos in this slideshow are intended to ‘tell the story’ of the small Chengjiang Fossil Site. They show the landscape features of the site, which was only ‘discovered’ in 1984, and covers an area of forested hills surrounded by areas of intensive agriculture and former phosphate mines undergoing ecological restoration. The photos cover the main area of public access, where an excellent small museum has been erected over an exposed rock-face where the first significant fossil find was made in 1984. The museum exhibits are shown, including the natural rock strata and an illuminated glass walkway at its base where visitors can view a selection of real fossils lying ‘in situ’ amongst fallen rock debris. Exhibits within the museum include explanatory panels as well as large back-lit photos of some of the key fossils with life-like 3D-models of each creature below. This page of the website is still under development and a more detailed description of the various aspects of the site which are illustrated in the slideshow will be included in due course – so please come back again soon!

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