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Shennongjia Tells History of Geo-evolution
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The splendid geological sight of the Shennongjia area is a result of a very long evolution, during which the deposition in the area experienced several tectonic movements.

After a violent folding, the area was either split or elevated, forming the embryo of today's landform.

The Shennongjia area has six mountains surpassing 3,000 meters above sea level, most of which are composed of the intrusive diabase rocks.

The Shennongding Peak, 3,105.4 meters above sea level, is the highest mountain in the Shennongjia area and is known as the "Roof of Central China."

A large area of well-preserved virgin forests surrounds the peak, making it a good habitat for many wild animals and plants, such as golden haired monkeys, giant salamanders and spotted deer.

Tourists to the mountains will find themselves surrounded by blossoming flowers and thriving trees. They can experience and enjoy the beauty of four different seasons at different altitudes on their way to the top of the mountain.

Stone forests and caves

Soluble carbonate rocks are widely distributed on the top of many mountains in the area. These rocks are easily eroded by water and have formed splendid high-altitude Karst Landforms.

The Fengjingya (the Scenery Pass) is representative of the landforms, with a group of straight and graceful stone pillars.

Picturesque scenery consisting of virgin forests, clear streams and grand waterfalls in thousands of canyons makes tourists feel completely relaxed and refreshed.

Peculiar caves, formed by erosion, also amaze visitors. The Swallow Cave, inhabited by thousands of rare swallows, is one of the famous caves in the area.

The cave is 2,340 meters above sea level and more than three kilometers long. The cave's mouth is 14 meters tall and 16 meters wide.

The cave is a treasure site for scientific research in geology, archaeology and zoology.

The Shanbao Cave (the Treasure Cave) faces south under a cliff. It is a typical Karst cave, abundant in various types of stalactite, stalagmite and stone pillars.

The Icy Cave is located 38 kilometers southwest of Songbai Town. The cave has an altitude of 2,400 meters above sea level.

In summer, the temperature in the cave is 10 to 20 degrees lower than the outside temperature.

In winter, however, the temperature in the cave is higher than outside. In addition, the water droplets never freeze.

Beautiful water scenery

Dajiu Lake, the largest lake in Shennongjia, is located 50 kilometres from the west of Shennongding Peak.

The lake is surrounded by mountains and has an area of 18 square kilometers, with its bottom standing at 1,750 meters above sea level.

The lake was formed about 40 million years ago, as a result of glacier movement.

The torturous Heishui River (the Black Water River) is the largest river flowing into the lake. Tourists can enjoy beautiful water scenery by the river and the lake.

The Shennongjia area is rich in the relics of the Quaternary glacier. The relics, mostly distributed around Shennongding Peak, Jiuhuping and Muyuping, have great scientific research value.

The deep canyons in the Shennongjia area have many outlets of underground water, which form various kinds of springs.

The Tide Spring erupts three times a day. Each eruption lasts 45 minutes and is accompanied by thundering sounds, with flow capacity reaching one ton per second.

The Fragrant Spring has a flow capacity of two tons per hour, forming a waterfall that is 10 meters wide and six meters high.

The waterfall forms a deep pool below, which is called Xianglong Pool.

Fir tree and wild man

The famous "Thousand-year-old Fir Tree" stands like an iron tower on the west side of the 209 National Highway.

The giant fir tree, with the Latin name of "Keteleeria davidiana," is 980 years old.

With a diameter of 2.38 meters, the 36-metre-tall fir tree is the tallest tree in the Shennongjia area.

This kind of fir tree is a living fossil peculiar to China, which thrived in the Cretaceous Period.

The Wild Man is perhaps the most mysterious figure in Shennongjia, as famous as Nessie and UFOs.

Its records appear many times in ancient Chinese books. Since the 1970s, many people in Shennongjia have declared that they have spotted the Wild Man.

According to their descriptions, the Wild Man is like an ape about two meters tall, covered by red or brown hair and it can run at an amazing speed.

Some scientists claim they have found evidence of the creature, such as footprints and hairs. However, a Wild Man has yet to be found.

Many people believe that the Wild Man is an ancient species like the giant panda and the golden-haired monkey.


The Shennongjia area, located in the northwest of Central China's Hubei Province, is a county-level administrative region directly under the provincial government.

Shennongjia has an area of 3,253 square kilometers and a population of 79,000.

Over 1,000 meters above sea level, the Shennongjia area belongs to the eastern branch of the Dabashan Mountains that connect the Tibetan Plateau in West China with the Yangtze plain in East China.

In 1986 with the approval of the State Council, Shennongjia became a "National Nature Reserve of Forests and Wild Animal Species."

In 1990, UNESCO accepted it into the protection network of "Man and Biosphere".

In 1992, the United Nations Development Program selected the forest zone as a "Demonstration of Natural Reserves of Bio-diversity."

Before the establishment of the national nature reserve in 1982, logging destroyed some virgin forests in the region.

Today, forests are protected and, with 2,762 species of vascular plants and the re-emergence of a golden monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) population, Shennongjia is considered to be a Green Gene Pool of China.

It shelters some of the world's rare and endangered plants and animals, such as Chinese dove trees, South China tigers, white bears and white snakes.

(China Daily November 24, 2006)

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