Children are awestruck as they encounter the giant skeletons of dinosaurs, especially the 22-meter-long brachiosaurus stretching its 11-meter-long neck up to the ceiling of the three-storey building.
Main attractions: Over 800 exhibits are on display, covering a great variety of fossils -- fishes and amphibians (first floor), reptiles and birds (second floor), and mammals (third floor) -- spanning from 400 million years ago to the dawn of man.
Eye-catchers: a giant lobe-finned fish (1.65 meters long, weighing 70 kg), crowned as a "living fossil." Said to be one of our earliest ancestors, it was believed to have become extinct 65 million years ago, until it was found again in 1938! This specimen was caught alive in 1976.
There are also interesting images -- dinosaurs with feathers and wings, Yellow River elephant fossils, ostrich eggs, turtle shells and a small but powerful kind of mammal who ate dinosaurs.
There is also a separate hall, telling of the origins and development of humans, mostly with pictures, as well as samples of crude tools made by early man.
Add: 142 Xizhimenwai Dajie, opposite Beijing Zoo, to the west of Beijing Planetarium;
Entry ticket: 20 yuan (US$2) for adult, 10 yuan (US$1) for kids above 1.20 meters, free for kids below 1.20 meters;
Opening hours: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Tuesday-Sunday;
Traffic: Subway to Xizhimen, and Bus No.s 27, 714, 716, 808, 902, 347, 601 or trolley 105, 107, 111, 104, 106 to get off at Beijing Zoo or Baishiqiao;
Tel: 86-10-88369280, 86-10-88369210.
(China Daily April 7, 2006)