Shanghai Natural History Museum is quite a different beast to its counterpart in Beijing. Shaped like a nautilus, the shiny new building sits partly underground in Jing’an Sculpture Park, asking serious questions throughout its 479,180 square feet that circle back and forth around extinction.
Sharing of scientific research is clearly emphasised, and there are special sections on Holocene extinctions at a global level (above), disappearing wildlife of Shanghai (‘the Former Shanghai “Residents”‘), and the big five mass extinction events.
The museum has stuffed specimens of several animals only found in China: Panda, Chinese Alligator and the Chinese Giant Salamander, all of which are (or have been) on the edge of extinction.
No Yangtze River Dolphin here either.. just an empty display cabinet for the baiji skeleton, with a tiny label: ‘specimen temporarily removed’.
There’s also a wonderful slab of the Cambrian strata of Chengjiang, ‘one of the most amazing scientific discoveries in the 20th century’. Chengjiang region (Yunan province) was a warm, shallow sea area during the Cambrian Explosion, a profusion of sea life 525 million years ago. The formation was famed for containing so many excellently-preserved fossil metazoans, covering every phylum of extant species and many extinct groups.