Hello blog friends! Today I’d like to highlight an important funding campaign that needs your help: Save Mongolia’s Dinosaurs! This campaign is organized by Bolortsetseg Minjin and Thea Boodhoo through the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs; you may have encountered Bolor’s name during the episode involving the Tarbosaurus auction in New York a few years ago, as she was the palaeontologist who initiated the investigation around the provenance of that specimen. Her actions helped lead to the repatriation of that specimen back to Mongolia. She does important work and is a palaeontologist you should know and support!
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!
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
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.
Most of my time in Mongolia this year was spent at Camp Bugin Tsav, to the west of Nemegt and Altan Ula. The landscape is lower here, which makes for slightly easier prospecting – there’s no ridge-hopping when you find yourself in the next canyon over from where you need to be.
Look, fossils! I promised you there’d be dinosaurs on the blog again eventually.
I’m back from the Gobi!