card
024

Central Asiatic Expedition

OLogy Series
expedition
card
024

Central Asiatic Expedition

OLogy Series
expedition

It was during the 1920s that the first team of Museum paleontologists, led by Roy Chapman Andrews, trekked to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. At the Flaming Cliffs (named for their intense orange color), this team discovered many fascinating fossils of dinosaurs, mammals, and lizards.

Skull of a Gigantic Beast

In the spring of 1923, a group of Museum researchers embarked on the second year of the Central Asiatic Expeditions. They made camp at Irdin Manha, "the Valley of the Jewels," in Inner Mongolia. 

A day or two after the team’s arrival, Kan Chuen Pao, a young paleontological assistant, made an amazing find: a massive, 1-meter-long (3-feet-long) skull with huge teeth. It was given the name Andrewsarchus mongoliensis, in honor of the expedition’s leader, Roy Chapman Andrews.

It remains the only specimen ever found of the species, which lived about 45 million years ago. Scientists think that the animal was about 1.8 meters (6 feet) high at the shoulder and 3.5 meters (12 feet) long. This size would make Andrewsarchus the largest known meat-eating land mammal that ever lived!

Which of the following was NOT discovered during the Central Asiatic Expedition?

dinosaur fossils

fossils of human ancestors

fossils of Protoceratops eggs

Are you right?

Correct!

Although the original goal of this expedition was to collect evidence of human ancestors, no such fossils were actually found.

Roy Chapman Andrews
paleontologist

One season in the Gobi we had six weeks of continual sandstorms. There never was a real calm.

Before embarking on the Central Asiatic Expedition, scientists packed maps so they could find their way around the desert.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Because the Gobi Desert wasn't yet charted in the 1920s, Roy Chapman Andrews had to create the team's own maps as they traveled.

Destination: Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Dates: 1922 to 1928
Goal: to search for fossils of ancient humans
Results: recovered fossils of dinosaur eggs, small mammals, Protoceratops, Velociraptor, Oviraptor
Participants: Roy Chapman Andrews, Walter Granger, and a team of scientific assistants

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH; Roy Chapman Andrews: AMNH.