Chengjiang County

Chengjiang County
Chengjiang County
Location of Chengjiang County (pink) and Yuxi Prefecture (yellow) within Yunnan province of China
Country China
Province Yunnan
Prefecture Yuxi
 - Total 804 km2 (310.4 sq mi)
 - Total 146,293
 - Density 182/km2 (471.3/sq mi)
Postal code 652500
Area code(s) 0877

Chengjiang County (officially 澂江县, however often spelled 澄江县; pinyin: Chéngjiāng Xiàn) is located in Yuxi, Yunnan Province, China, just north of Fuxian Lake.

Within evolutionary biology, and especially paleontology, Chengjiang County is famous for soft-tissue fossil finds, of the Maotianshan Shales, dated to between 525 and 520 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion, which "are as spectacular as the Burgess Shale fauna, and significantly older".[1] These fossils are considered one of the most important fossil finds of the 20th Century. Not only do they contain an exquisite degree of detail, but they also cover a diverse range of fauna, and are of significance in attempts to understand the evolution of life on Earth.[2][3]

The fossils were first discovered by Hou Xian-guang, who is a Professor at Yunnan University, Kunming, where he is Director of the Research Center for Chengjiang Biota. Previously he was a Professor at the Palaeontological Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing.

Chengjiang is an underdeveloped county having rich phosphate deposits that are found both above and below the formation holding the lagerstatte. They have been exploited in part through efforts that began at about the same time that Hou Xian-guang discovered the deposits that bear these exceptional fossils, with phosphate mining bringing in some 2/3 of the county's revenue in 2003. Efforts were made to close the region to mining in a bid to support the county's bid for listing as a World Heritage site, given the scientific significance of the fossils. A consequence of this was renewed mining efforts in the region, which threatened the fossil-bearing strata due to erosion, slumping of overburden, and simple destruction by the mining efforts. Chengjiang County faces the dilemma between calls for preservation of the treasure trove of early Cambrian fossils to which it is steward and the economic reliance it has on the phosphate industry, and the difficulty of finding a balance between exploitation and restoration of the land while this is still possible.[3]


Further reading

Guang, Hou Xian; Aldridge, Richard J.; Bergstrom, Jan; Siveter, David J.; Siveter, Derek J. (2004). The Cambrian Fossils of Chengjiang, China: The Flowering of Early Animal Life. Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1-4051-0673-5 

Donovan, S.K. (2006). "Book Review - The Cambrian Fossils of Chengjiang, China". In PalArch's Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 

Hou Xian-guang's original publications

The following four journal citations were found at: "The TalkOrigins Archive - Chinese Bibliography page". ( 

  • Hou Xian-guang (1987). "Two new arthropods from Lower Cambrian, Chengjiang, Eastern Yunnan [in Chinese]". Acta Palaeontologica Sinica 26: 236–256. 
  • Hou Xian-guang (1987). "Three new large arthropods from Lower Cambrian, Chengjiang, Eastern Yunnan [in Chinese]". Acta Palaeontologica Sinica 26: 272–285. 
  • Hou Xian-guang (1987). "Early Cambrian large bivalved arthropods from Chengjiang, Eastern Yunnan [in Chinese]". Acta Palaeontologica Sinica 26: 286–298. 
  • Hou Xian-guang, & Sun Wei-guo (1988). "Discovery of Chengjiang fauna at Meishucun, Jinning, Yunnan [in Chinese]". Acta Palaeontologica Sinica 27: 1–12. 


  1. ^ Sterelny, Kim (2007). Dawkins Vs Gould: Survival of the Fittest. Cambridge, U.K.: Icon Books. p. 116. ISBN 1-84046-780-0.  Also ISBN 978-1840467-80-2
  2. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2004). The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage To the Dawn of Life. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 77. ISBN 0-297-82503-8. 
  3. ^ a b "Chengjiang Maotianshan Shales Fossils". Fossil Mall: Science Section ( Retrieved 2009-10-15. 

External links

Coordinates: 24°39′02″N 102°56′06″E / 24.6506°N 102.935°E / 24.6506; 102.935

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