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Yunnan University – as a "first-class universities and disciplines" construction university – in recent years has gathered a group of outstanding minds who have contributed to the development of Southwest China's Yunnan province, including Professor Zhang Xiguang.
Professor Zhang records his research findings. [Photo/WeChat account of Yunnan University]
At the start of 2002, Zhang finished his 10-year doctoral studies and work in Canada and returned to Yunnan University, based in Kunming – capital of Yunnan province. Over the next 20 years, he devoted himself to the study of stratigraphy and paleontology.
Fossils are the basic materials for paleontological research. The Kunming Xiaoshiba biota – unique to Southwest China's Yunnan province and composed of a Burgess shale type – can also preserve the soft body parts of organisms and provide information that ordinary hard fossils have not retained for the study of prehistoric life.
These special fossils are only scattered around the world and relevant research has long been a hot and difficult issue in the world's scientific and technological frontiers. "When looking for such a fossil interlayer, we often find nothing, but once we find it we can feel great joy," Zhang said.
Since 2012, Zhang's team has made a series of breakthroughs. The achievements have been published in the world's top journals or monographs such as Science, Nature, PNAS – making their due contributions to Yunnan University's paleontology research and placing it at the forefront of the world.
In 2020, Zhang led a scientific research achievement entitled "Cambrian special preserved fossils and early evolution of arthropods" which won second prize at the National Natural Science Award.