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For centuries the Gobi nomads have frequently found bones of strange creatures, what they call “Dragons”, worshipped them, protected and refrained from touching or digging them. Actually, the bones were no dragons' bones, but belonged to dinosaurs that roamed the earth 70-75 million years ago.
This was discovered in 1920 by the first expedition team of the American Museum of Natural History, which was exploring the Gobi desert, and it was a major milestone in the science of paleontology.
Mongolia is one of the a few countries that lead in the number of dinosaur fossil sites, numbers of species found and other dinosaur related discoveries.
He stands in the middle of the remote, rugged Mongolian desert: high leather riding pants, broad brimmed felt hat, leather-holstered sidearm hanging from a glittering ammunition belt. Nobody else dresses like him, but then nobody else is the leader of the American museum's Central Asiatic expeditions to Mongolia in the 1920-s. He is Roy Chapmen Andrews, who will be the inspiration 50 years later, who is most plausible, rumored, for Indiana Jones. His idea was simple to run expedition to Mongolia . Andrews' timing was superb, The Director of the AMNH, H.F.Osborn, had concluded that the cradle of humanity was located in Mongolia , and so Andrews was effectively offering Osborn the opportunity to prove his thesis right. The logistics of the expedition were extravagant: Dodge cars re-supplied by a caravan of camels would bear the brunt of the expedition. The expedition itself would consist of paleontologists, geologists and geographers to explore the Gobi desert, a huge desert that forms the vast southern part of Mongolia.
It was not without its risks. The Gobi desert is a place of temperature extremes blown by relentless strong wind. In 1922 the year of first of the 3 expeditions, a revolution shook Mongolia . Moreover, only one fossil a rhinoceros tooth, had ever been found in Mongolia up until that time. As it turned out, the Central Asiatic Expeditions were an unqualified success. Although Osborn's theory was not supported, Andrews brought back a wealth of fossils, including dinosaur material, that made Osborn's error easy to forget. Among the most famous dinosaur finds of his expedition, for example; were Protoceratops /species name of this famous dinosaur is andrewsi/ and eggs. Other incredible captures included Velociraptor and a group of tiny Mesozoik mammals.
Andrews and his field parties also found the largest land mammals and the largest Carnivorous land mammal, both dated to Cenozoic age. Other fossils were obtained whose significance was not completely understood. For example, it was only in 1992 that a specimen of Mononykus, collected by Andrews scientists in the 1920s was finally correctly identified. All in all, it was quite a haul. Andrews and his parties survived the Mongolian revolution of 1921, but eventually the expeditions came to an end when the political situation in China became too unstable, threatening too much danger for travel.
Since 1920, about 80 fossils of 60 dinosaur species were found from Gobi desert, which was one fourth of the all dinosaur fossils recorded. The fossils from the Gobi desert belong to dinosaurs that lived in the Cretaceous period, circa 70 million years ago, who were the most advanced stage of evolution at the time and the findings give scientists clues on their development and possible causes of dinosaur extinction, thus contributing to the advancement of the paleontology. The modern desert area once was a lush land with warm humid air with rich rivers and thick abundant vegetation, resembling modern African savannah and full of dinosaurs, from the tiny ones to the giant species.
The most popular hypothesis on the extinction of the wonderful world of dinosaurs is the assumption that about 60-65 million years ago our earth collided with a big comet. After the collision million tons of dust clouded the atmosphere, preventing sunlight from reaching surface like giant mirror. Consequently, photosynthesis of plants stops, vegetation disappears, plant eating species die out and the biological balance is lost and combined with the climate change, these factors caused the extinction of dinosaurs.
One of the many evidences supporting these theory is the presence of modium element in the strata related to that period, which is not an element found on our earth. The most impressed fossils discovered in Mongolian Gobi desert comes from Gurvan Tes village, South Gobi Province , in the location called Bugiin Tsav Fossil site. It was well-preserved skeleton of an ostrich – like Carnivorous dinosaur, which lived circa 70 millions years ago.
Also from the Mongolian Gobi desert were found fossils of 5-6 kinds of dinosaurs belonging to this branch of dinosaurs. They have played an important role in researching development stages of this particular species. Another important discovery made in 1994 at the Togrogiin Shiree fossil site In Bulgan village, Gobi desert, is the amazing fossils of a small Carnivor named Velociraptor dating from Cretaceous period and found only in Mongolia . This predator from Mongolia “played” one of the main roles in the famous sci-fi thriller “Jurassic park” created by American director Stephen Spielberg.
Recent interesting findings include a well-preserved group of young Protoceratops. This discovery made in summer of 1995 at the Togrogiin shiree fossil site and it includes 14-15 young just hatched dinosaurs, all looking at the same direction and they appear to be nested in a special nest or dig out. This discovery greatly contributes to scientist's research on dinosaur reproduction, up-bringing, protection of youngsters and herd behaviour, and generally advances the science of paleontology.
Another research material from Mongolia is the foot prints of dinosaurs, preserved in their natural habitat. Foot prints are valuable evidence on the behaviour of dinosaurs, their movements, way of living million years ago. The Gobi desert of Mongolia –site of dinosaur fossils discovery is a national park with strictly protected area status. Mongolian paleontologists organize united expedition s and explorations cooperating with scientific institutions of USA , Japan and Australia . Today many whole skeletons of small and giant dinosaurs are kept and displayed to public in Natural History Museum in Ulaanbaatar.
Narrated by tour guides of Blue Mongolia Tour
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