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Gobi Expeditions

OLogy Series
expedition
card
025

Gobi Expeditions

OLogy Series
expedition

Every summer since 1991, Museum paleontologists join Mongolian scientists in the Gobi Desert. During these expeditions, a 15-member team endures blazing heat, brutal sandstorms, surprise flash floods, and no showers. Why do they put up with these crazy conditions? Two words: fabulous fossils.

Nomad Encounters
As the expedition team drives through the desert, they occasionally pass tent-like huts called "gers." These temporary homes belong to nomad families who travel through the desert with their cattle. When the expedition team visits a nomad family, they sometimes take pictures of the kids using a Polaroid camera. Then they give these pictures to the families as a gift. Expedition co-leader Mike Novacek enjoys watching these kids grow up. Mike says, "Some of the children we met as infants back in the early 90s are now accomplished horsepeople, helping to tend the herds."

What is the biggest obstacle to fossil collecting in the Gobi Desert?

sandstorms

sunburns

snow storms

Are you right?

Correct!

While the heat makes life uncomfortable and difficult, it's sandstorms that often halt the collecting process.

When paleontologists find a fossil in the desert, they immediately remove all the rock surrounding it.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Scientists have a limited amount of time to collect in the field so most fossil preparation is done back in the Museum.

Destination: Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Dates: 1991 to present
Goal: to collect Cretaceous Period fossils
Results: the discovery of an amazing fossil site called Ukhaa Tolgod (OOK-ah TOL-gud), an Oviraptor nest, and many fossil mammals
Participants: paleontologists Mike Novacek and Mark Norell, scientists, fossil preparators, students, cooks, and car mechanics

Image credits: courtesy Discovery Channel Online.