China holds the world record for the most dinosaur egg fossils discovered.
China holds the world record for the most dinosaur egg fossils discovered.

A huge drive for museum construction and excavation work has led to a dinosaur craze in China.

China's rich subterranean reserves of dinosaur fossils have already produced the Tsintaosaurus and Shantungosaurus, named many years ago after the places where they were found.

More recent additions include Zucheng-tyrannus and the Huanghetitan liujiaxiagensis.

The discoveries of new dinosaur species in China has led to a scientific rethink about dinosaur biology and how they spread over the globe.

New sites in eastern China uncovered thousands of fossilised eggs and embryos. The world's largest graveyard of dinosaurs, in the Shandong province, suggested that dinosaurs of different species shared nests.

Dinosaur egg fossils unearthed in China account for one-third of the total yet found.

With Chinese funding for museums and research available to both domestic and international teams, Asia is claiming the title of the world's must-see dinosaur destination.

During recent years, researchers have made fascinating discoveries in China. In 2009, Peter Makovicky at the Field Museum, Chicago, described a long-snouted tyrannosaur named Xiongguanlong baimoensis from rocks in western China dating to between 100 million and 125 million years ago. The animal reached about four metres long, larger than the Jurassic tyrannosaurs.

In 2012, Xu Xing of the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing and his colleagues uncovered a 9-metre-long tyrannosaur by the name of Yutyrannus huali3 from a similar time period.

Despite China's rich seam of fossils, domestic interest in palaeontology is limited, said Xu Xing.

Nevertheless, the past ten years has seen increased interest among the Chinese, in line with China's economic boom.

"When I started, there was just one person applying to study palaeontology - me. Now this institute alone has intakes of 20 students a year and there are new institutes opening around the country," Professor Xu told the Times.

Local governments from Inner Mongolia to Hunan were competing to build museums around dinosaurs found on their patches.

Huang Dong, curator of the new £10 million Heyuan Dinosaur Museum in Guangdong province, said that it receives around 120,000 visitors a year.

A further £40 million in investment in a dinosaur park is planned.

"It is very necessary to build more dinosaur museums in China. We should let the world know more about our special dinosaur resources," said Huang.

"It helps attract investment because some businessmen feel since dinosaurs once chose to live here in ancient times, it must be a good place."

Watch the video about the 'one-fingered' dinosaur discovered in China