Earth Sciences in Mongolia

Earth Sciences doctoral students John Graf and Thomas Adams, who provided the reports for this blog, along with Professor Louis L. Jacobs, are traveling to Mongolia as a part of a multi-international dinosaur expedition hosted by the city of Hwaseong in the Republic of Korea. The purpose of the project is to discover, collect and study dinosaur fossils from the Gobi desert in Mongolia, which is one of the most important dinosaur localities in the world.
In addition to SMU researchers, the multinational team includes researchers from Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) and Paleontological Center, Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the University of Alberta, Canada. The project will be augmented each year by additional researchers from countries including the United States, Canada, Japan and China.

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Fighting dinosaurs in Ulaan Baatar

Aug%2016.jpg We landed in Ulaan Baatar around 11 AM and were met by Dr. Yoshi Kobayashi (former SMU graduate student) from the Hokkaido University Museum, Japan, and Dr. Ligden Barsbold from Paleontological Center, Mongolia. We were informed that we would leave for the Gobi Desert the next morning, giving us a chance to spend the day in the capitol city.

I visited the Mongolia Natural History Museum, which houses some of the most spectacular fossils from Central Asia. The highlight of the visit was seeing the mounted skeleton of Tarbosaurus, cousin of T rex, Deinocheirus, many dinosaur eggs, and the world-famous fighting dinosaurs.

The fighting dinosaurs are a Velociraptor (made famous by the movie Jurassic Park) and Protoceratops (a relative of Triceratops) that are preserved together as if in a battle to the death. The Velociraptor’s claws of one foot are thrust in the abdomen of the Potoceratops, and Protoceratops holds the right forearm of the Velociraptor in its mouth.

We depart tomorrow by car to Bugin Tsav. Along the way, we will pick up a truck. We expect the trip to take two to possibly four days. Once there we will meet up with the rest of the expedition team, including expedition team leader Dr. Yuong-Nam Lee, former SMU graduate student, from the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resourses, Korea, and SMU doctoral student John Graf, who left one and a half weeks earlier and is already working in Bugin Tsav.

(In photo: Tarbosaurus skeleton in the main dinosaur hall of the Mongolia Natural History Museum.)

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