Over the past decade, China has been the source of some sensational fossil discoveries, including the world's earliest vertebrates, the first beaked bird and the most primitive flowering plants.
These discoveries have not only shed light on research of the origin of life, but also turned the country into the world's frontier of fossil discoveries and a hot spot for palaeontologists.
About 800 of these specialized researchers and scientists have gathered in Beijing for the second Palaeontological Congress, which opened on Saturday and ends today.
About 500 palaeontologists have come from more than 50 countries worldwide.
The congress is sponsored by the International Palaeontological Association (IPA) and hosted by the Palaeontological Society of China (PSC).
Richard Aldridge, president of IPA, said he believes the event to be "the biggest meeting for palaeontologists ever."
According to Sha Jingeng, president of PSC and director of Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, most of the world's leading palaeontologists have been participating in the meeting and the congress attracted twice as many attendees as the first gathering held in Sydney in 2002.
He said that the meeting would focus on a series of scientific sessions and symposia to discuss new research findings relating to fossil organisms, emphasizing the convention's theme "Ancient Life and Modern Approaches."
A series of scientific sessions and special group meetings have been arranged.
In addition, field excursions will be organized to examine the best-exposed fossil formations and well-preserved fossil localities in the country.
"By hosting the congress, we hope to showcase the research level and achievements of Chinese palaeontologists, upgrade competitiveness of Chinese palaeontology, improve development and exchange of palaeontology," said Sha.
(Source: China Daily)