The University of Alberta has a pretty active Palaeontological Society with undergrad, grad student, and faculty members, and when we can we try to organize palaeo-themed field trips. Lucky for us, this summer Edmonton had a very cool new dinosaur attraction open called the Jurassic Forest, so of course we had to check it out.
In the Gobi we tended to spend most of the day (from about 8:30 am to 7pm, with a break for lunch) out prospecting in the desert. It was nice to come home to such swanky digs each evening at Camp Bugin Tsav!
Earlier this week my supervisor Phil Currie received the Alberta Order of Excellence, the province’s highest order for public service. Hooray Phil!
The picture above shows Phil this summer in Mongolia, marking the location of a particularly nice sauropod footprint.
Although you wouldn’t necessarily know it from this picture, the Bactrian Camel Camelus bactrianusis is the two-humped camel found in the deserts and steppes of Mongolia. When I was growing up, the way to remember which camel was which was to turn the B of Bactrian and D of Dromedary on their sides – Bactrians have two humps, Dromedaries have one. Last winter was very harsh in Mongolia, and millions of livestock died – I wonder if this is the reason that so many camels had flopped-over humps this year.
In addition to dead and fossilized animals, I came across the remains of many recently dead animals while prospecting (including one tremendously large and dead camel with the skin still intact). Skulls and skull caps with horns of Altai Argali (Ovis ammon ammon), Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica), and Goitered Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) were common sights, and many skulls were affixed to the fronts of our camp trucks. On one occassion we did see several Goitered Gazelles fleeing from our approaching vehicles – they are incredibly fast. Continue reading
Perhaps the most charismatic of the Mongolian predators is the Snow Leopard, Uncia uncia, seen here at the Natural History Museum in Ulaanbaatar. Sadly I did not get to see one of these great cats, as they are fairly rare and highly reclusive. Continue reading
After spending two months in Korea this summer I can’t miss mentioning the following paper:
HUH, M., LEE, D.-G., KIM, J.-K., LIM, J.-D. & GODEFROIT, P. (2010): A new basal ornithopod dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of South Korea. – N. Jb. Geol. Paläont. Abh., DOI: 10.1127/0077-7749/2010/0102; Stuttgart.
Abstract: The Seonso Conglomerate (?Santonian – Campanian, Late Cretacous) of Boseong site 5 (southern coast of Korean Peninsula) has yielded well-preserved postcranial material belonging to a new taxon of ornithischian dinosaur, Koreanosaurus boseongensis nov. gen., nov. sp. This dinosaur is characterized by elongated neck vertebrae, very long and massive scapulocoracoid and humerus, proportionally short hindlimbs with a low hindlimb ratio for tibia/femur, and anteroposteriorly-elongated femoral head forming an obtuse 135° angle with the femoral shaft. Koreanosaurus displays a series of neornithischian synapomorphies. Amongst Neornithischia, most features of the postcranial skeleton suggest affinities with basal ornithopods and, amongst them, particularly with a small clade formed by three genera from the Cretaceous of Montana: Zephyrosaurus schaffi, Orodromeus makelai, and Oryctodromeus cubicularis. According to the morphological, phylogenetic, sedimentological, and taphonomic data at hand, it is tentatively postulated that Koreanosaurus was a burrowing dinosaur, like Oryctodromeus.
In addition to extinct animals, I did get to encounter a variety of extant fauna during my trip to Mongolia. In this post I’ll show some of the reptiles and birds we encountered.
And so it is back to ?serious business on the blog. Today I wanted to bring some attention to a major project in the Currie Lab for the last few years, a special volume of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences all about Albertosaurus. The whole glorious volume can be downloaded for free here if you’re coming from a Canadian IP address. Otherwise, your local library may provide access or you can email the very nice authors for a PDF.