Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gobi Photos #6

An early morning shot of our camp at Ultan Ula 2. We spent three nights here and made day trips to Ultan Ula 3 and 4. Breakfast is at 7:30 and daily departure is around 8:30. Each day we set out with our drivers in the vans seen in this photo. These vans can navigate through almost any sand dune.

In The Dragon’s Tomb, David explains how to map a quarry to Maria.

Caleb Brown and Emma wait for the rest of the crew to hike back to the trucks after a full day of working in The Dragon’s Tomb. The small bit of shade is a welcome respite from the blistering sun; the downside is the necessary check for ticks after stretching out on the sand.

En route out of Ultan Ula 2 our Russian-built vans had to climb a step, sandy slope to get back to the gobi plateau. With the extra weight of the gear, fossils and crew not all of the vans could make it up on the first try.

When the vans started to lean to almost the horizontal plane we unloaded the students and had them hike up the slope.

At the top of the slope we stopped at the Russian monument erected in 1949 by Evremov to commemorate the 1948-49 Russian-Mongolian palaeontological expeditions to the region. The monument is a steel girder embedded in the ground on the east side of the badlands. Nikki and Emma pose for scale

Our excellent guide, Anand (center in black shirt), from Nomadic Expeditions translates the story about the Russian-Mongolian palaeontological team as told by our Mongolian colleague, Dr. Badamgarov.

My annual photo of David Evans pointing into the distance. In this case the backdrop is the Nemegt Formation of Ultan Ula 4.

The Polish quarry that produced the holotype of the sauropod Opistocoelocaudia at Ultan Ula 4. It turned out to be less than 200 m from the poached quarry where the 2006 KID expedition collected the remains of a Tarbosaurus.

Last year the Phil Currie relocated the Deinochierus quarry at Ultan Ula 3. This year the Montessori high school students spent part of a day looking for more material from this site. Scientists are still debating exactly what dinosaur the giant arms found here are from. I’m not sure that all the students can actually appreciate how lucky they are to be at a site like this.

On out drive back out of the deep gobi we stopped briefly at the Oka Tolgad, the famous AMNH locality that has produced numerous oviraptorid nests and hundreds of skulls from mammals and lizards. Caleb and David check our a poached quarry.

NB: The previous pop culture posts are all auto-posts; I'm still in the gobi.