DINOWEB - dinosaurs web-site  

Complete Data Base of Paleozoic and Mesozoic Tetrapods.
Paleo-News and illustrations. Big electronic PDF-library.

line decor
line decor

Download PDF Paleolibrary


?????????? ?????????
сайт о динозаврах
??????? ?????????

рейтинг сайтов
Free Hit Counters

Free Counter
hit counter javascript

myspace hit counter
Powered by counter.bloke.com

Locations of visitors to this page


Laser beams thwart dinosaur thieves

July 31 , 2016

by Jennifer Ingall and Anna Moulder

"We're trying to save dinosaurs."

Dr Phil Bell might sound like he's a few million years late, but the palaeontologist from the University of New England in Armidale says his mission is no joke.

"In the last 20 or so years there's been an enormous explosion of black market dinosaur bones," Dr Bell said.

He is about to leave for Mongolia as part of a very special project to repatriate dinosaurs bones, which have been taken illegally from sites in the Gobi desert and found in private collections or auction houses.

Mongolia has a rich history of paleontological exploration starting in the 1920s when Roy Chapman Andrews from the American Museum of Natural History first opened up the Gobi desert region across Mongolia and China.

Interestingly, Dr Andrews was initially looking for human fossils.

"Instead he found what would be one of the biggest treasure troves of dinosaur fossils anywhere in the world," Dr Bell said.

"You can still go there today and literally stumble over skeletons laid out in the rocks."

In the time of the dinosaurs, the region was lush and green with plenty of water, and a valley that collected sediment.

Now it is a desert.

"As the desert sands shift and as erosion continues you get new things exposed all the time, and we've been going back to the same places for almost a century now," Dr Bell said.

Mongolia does not have a monopoly on ancient bones: China, Canada, the US and Argentina all have exceptional fossil deposits, but Dr Bell said there was a historical reverence about the South-East Asian site.

The Mecca for scientists is also a trove for treasure hunters but much has been done recently to try and repatriate the bones back to Mongolia and a new natural history museum.

Dr Bell said palaeontology had changed over the last century, and was no longer just about collecting and preserving dinosaur bones.

"We're more interested these days in how these animals lived, how they breathed, how they reproduced and how the whole ecosystem worked, so it's more like being a palaeoecologist rather than a treasure hunter."

That's where his team comes in. Its brief is to develop a chemical map of the Gobi Desert and match it with the chemical makeup of the repatriated fossils to pinpoint where the bones have been removed from.

"We have tiny lasers which tell us the chemical composition of the bones and rocks, and it's our theory that different rocks and the different bones that are in them will have different chemical elements that will signify where the bones came from," Dr Bell explained.

This will be the palaeontologist's third trip to Mongolia.

Dr Bell said the repatriation of fossils had led to some significant discoveries, and enabled scientists to solve some mysteries and discover new species.

"From these efforts to return fossils we are learning things we have never dreamed of," he said.



Hosted by uCoz