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Gobi Expeditions Reads and Links

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The Museum’s original Shelf Life video series is back for season 2 with stories from more than a century of field expeditions that helped build the Museum’s collections. The latest video, “Nothing but the Tooth,” is about a surprising discovery featuring two fossil specimens recovered from Mongolia’s Gobi Desert just a few years ago.


The Museum’s long history conducting research in the Gobi Desert stretches from the early 20th century to the modern day. For a glimpse of past and present field conditions, check out the 360 video about fossil-hunting in the 1920s and an article on paleontology in the Gobi today that are part of this episode.

There’s no need to stop there, though. You can also dig into some of the primary sources our producers used to put together the latest episode. For a historical perspective, peruse photos of the groundbreaking Central Asiatic Expeditions in the Museum’s Digital Special Collections, or read selections from Roy Chapman Andrews’ Across Mongolian Plains.


5 researchers seated on the desert floor examine dinosaur bones which include a rib bone, lower jaw, humerus, femur and toe bone.
Roy Chapman Andrews (far right) and expedition team members examine dinosaur fossils in the Gobi, 1928.
© AMNH/J. Shackelford

For a great rundown of modern Museum expeditions in the Gobi, check out Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs by paleontologist Michael Novacek, who is also provost of science at the Museum.

Discover more about our mammalian ancestry in “The Marvelous Mammalian Parade,” a 1994 issue of Natural History featuring articles by Dr. Novacek and others. Research Associate Christian Kammerer, a paleontologist based at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, has great snapshots of fossil specimens like the cynodonts featured in “Nothing But the Tooth,” on Twitter @Synapsida


Fossilized head of a galesaurus.
Follow @Synapsida on Twitter for fossil photos like this one.
Courtesy of Christian Kammerer, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

You can even take a look at research about dinosaur specimens from the Gobi published just this year by Danny Barta, a student at the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School who is part of a new generation of Museum researchers exploring the desert’s fossil beds.