The Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP)，Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), is one of world’s premiere paleontological institutions. IVPP researchers study the institute’s namesake disciplines, vertebrate paleontology and paleoanthropology, and their related areas of geological and biological sciences as well as Paleolithic archaeology. Vertebrate paleontological research focuses on the morphology, taxonomy, phylogeny, paleoecology, and spatial and temporal distribution of the various vertebrate groups, as well as other relevant biogeographical, paleoclimatological and molecular biological problems. The paleoanthrological study mainly deals with origin and evolutionary history of fossil human and Paleolithic archeology. Moreover, the study of applied anthropology and physical anthropology has also been emphasized in recent years. Many magnificent research results have been achieved and 45 research papers have been published in Nature and Science during 1999-2005.
Currently the institute employs 124 staff members, with three academicians of Chinese Academy of Sciences and about 40 researchers holding high-ranking professional posts. In addition, a skilled technical team supports the research enterprise, preparing, casting and molding, and drawing and photographing fossils. The IVPP is equipped with the state-of-art lab facilities, and enjoys financial supports from various grant agencies because of its excellent research output. The institute edits and publishes four periodicals, Vertebrata PalAsiatica, Acta Anthropologica, Fossils and Dinosaurs. The institute has an important fossils collection with more than two hundred thousand catalogued specimens. It also boasts three stories of spacious exhibition halls, the Paleozoological Museum of China, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually.
Three scholarly organizations are affiliated to the IVPP: Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, which is a branch of the Palaeontological Society of China, and the Paleoanthropology-Paleolithic Sub-Committee and the Stratigraphy Sub-Committee, both under the Quaternary Research Association of China.
International collaborations and exchanges have developed rapidly during the recent years. The institute has established collaborations with more than 20 countries worldwide, mainly on the studies of early vertebrates, fossil reptiles, dinosaurs and birds, terrestrial mammals, origin of early hominids and their environmental background. Half a dozen of postdocs from England and France have been worked at the institute for one to two years, and a Fulbright graduate student from the US is now spending one year here. The IVPP strives to provide the funding opportunities for international post- and pre-doctorial students, and seek to co-sponsor and train international graduate students with the institutions overseas. The IVPP has organized and will continue to explore the venue to organize the traveling exhibits overseas to showcase the wonderful fossils that have been found in China and will interest the scientists and general public alike.
The IVPP’s current prominent position in international paleontological communities owes a great deal to its luminous pioneers such as the late C. C. Young. Its origin can be traced back to the Cenozoic Research Laboratory, which was established in 1929 as a subordinate branch of the Geological Survey of China. During the early days of the People’s Republic of China, the Cenozoic Research Laboratory was affiliated to the National Planning and Steering Commission for Geological Works, and in 1953 it became an independent research Laboratory of Vertebrate Paleontology of CAS. Its name was changed to the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology in 1957, and it attained its present name in 1960.