Back again for another week of Mongolia Monday! This will be the last week that I’ll cover my Gobi fieldwork from this summer, but if you want to hear about fieldwork from previous years, let me know in the comments!
Note: this is week 4 of my series documenting my travels in Mongolia. Check out week 1, week 2, and week 3 if you haven’t yet. I’ve modified those posts so that the videos are at the top, rather than the bottom, so go back and take a look if you missed them!
Nemegt is a truly unparalleled locality. It’s the crown jewel of the Nemegt Basin in the western Gobi, and it has produced more than 100 articulated dinosaur skeletons over the past ~75 years. Testament to this is a special issue released on just this locality last year. This year, we went back to tie up some loose ends that we’d left behind from 2016.
From Bugiin Tsav, it’s a 5 hour drive to Nemegt, so we broke up the trip with a stop at Naran Bulak–a Paleocene locality that produces some of the first mammals to colonize the post-dinosaur wasteland. Conveniently, it also has a freshwater spring and a tourist stop with showers!
On our first day at Nemegt, we went back to a site where Phil found an oviraptorosaur skull in 2016, but we didn’t find any more material. We prospected for the rest of the morning, but didn’t find too much else. In the afternoon, we went back to the Nemegtosaurus quarry that Federico Fanti rediscovered on the last day in 2016. We wanted to see if there was any more material coming out, as well as get some last bits of data that Phil hadn’t had time to collect last time. This time, we were fairly lucky: Ganzorig found a nice phalanx, and I found a rock with impressions of what may be the skull. The rock had been glued in several places, and alongside it were several pieces of burlap. It seems that this may have been where the skull was trimmed down and jacketed. Establishing that this is indeed the Nemegtosaurus quarry means we can tie the other material to the skull and show that Opisthocoelicaudia is in fact Nemegtosaurus.
On the last day at Nemegt, we spent the morning at Khulsan, a sub-locality just east of Nemegt that produces incredible fossils of small animals. I didn’t find anything, but our crew found a mammal skull and several well-preserved bird eggs. In the afternoon, I went east of camp to prospect a beautiful area called the Red Walls. I wanted to get to an underprospected area called Viper Sayr, which has just never had enough coverage. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t contribute much, because I found a partial skeleton of an alvarezsaur just at the mouth of the Sayr. It would take me the rest of the afternoon to collect the specimen, so I didn’t get any further!
Nothing new in the lab, just working away on specimens as usual. Next week I’ll have a bigger update on my research, but I figure fieldwork is enough for now.