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MONGOLIAN DINOSAURS



Mongolian dinosaurs dream of a permanent home
    By Irja Halasz
    ULAN BATOR, Feb 2 (Reuter) - Life has never been easy for Mongolia's
dinosaurs.
    First, their marshland habitat with its mild climate was turned into the
merciless Gobi desert.
    Then they were about to get a tailor-made museum as a permanent home for the
bones of their ancestors when it was snatched away from them by the end of
Socialism and the switch to a market economy.
    So most of the bones are lying in overcrowded storerooms of the Geological
Research Centre, with a few prize specimens in a small space set aside for them
in the National Museum.
    "In 1989, all the drawings for the new museum were finished
and it was included in the budget," said Tsogtbaatar (Rpt: Tsogbaatar), head of
the dinosaur collection at the National Museum.
    "But the project stopped when the country switched to a market economy and
there was no more budget," he said.
    "I fear few people will pay attention to the dinosaur bones piling up in
storerooms because ticket prices could never turn a museum into a profitable
enterprise for the state," he said.
    All this is a tragedy for Mongolia's small group of dinosaur-lovers who are
turning up increasingly rich finds of the country's 60 species, aided by experts
from the United States, Austria, Germany and Japan who have joined their
expeditions since the country opened up in 1990.
    Paleontologist Rinchengiin Barsbold, famous in the dinosaur field, said
that, worldwide, most dinosaurs have been found in the United States, Mongolia
and China.
    He speaks of them as if they were living animals.
    "They had feelings, did things together and fed and loved their young," he
said, looking over Protoceratops skeletons. "These remains tell us of animals
who, dozens of millions of years ago, suffered and rejoiced, brought up their
young and fought for their future."
    Mongolia has rich, interesting sites in the Gobi where well-preserved
dinosaurs are discovered every year, he said.
    A recent find has proved for the first time that the animals were social
creatures who lived together, he said.
    Searchers found 14 young Protoceratops in the south Gobi desert, all in one
place, looking in one direction and keeping closely together, he said.
    "The baby dinosaurs of about the same age may have been from the same
mother. They were found together in a hole where they may have been hiding,
perhaps from a sandstorm or an enemy, or had gone to hibernate side by side," he
said.
    "This is the first time that scientists in the world have found firm proof
that dinosaurs were animals who lived and hid themselves in a group or
hibernated together in the same place," he said. "This is remarkable for
scientific research."
    The dinosaurs lived about 70 million years ago in what is now the Gobi
desert but what was then lakes and marshland that had formed from a sea. Oldest
fossils found in the Gobi are dated as 700-800 million years old.
    This year expeditions in the Gobi found more than 10 skeletons of the
Pinacosaur, which was covered in shield-like scales and looked like a huge pine
cone.
    Some Mongolian findings have been loaned to museums abroad, including the
world's only dinosaur embryo found inside an egg by American researchers who
identified it as an Oviraptor.
    The result of these searches are kept in storerooms of the Geological
Research Centre, which has a section in the National Museum to display a small
fraction of its treasures.
    Among them are a 12-metre (40-feet) long Tarbosaur, which weighs five
tonnes, and a 15-metre (50-feet) long Sauroloph, which is 10-metre (33 feet)
tall, weighs eight tonnes and whose skull looks like a giant head of Donald
Duck.
    Mongolia's biggest dinosaur is the Sauropodmorphia, which lived about 75
million years ago in the Gobi and weighed 20-25 tonnes.
    Its skeleton is 25-30 metres long and is too large to fit into the limited
space in the museum.
====================
The above is the full-text of the original newswire article.
I have no further data. I didn't write it, so no fair flaming me if
you disagree with it. <grin>