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ELurio@aol.com wrote:

Actually Kyrgyzstan is one of the big success stories in Central Asia. It
would probably be far easier than ever  before.

Don't bet on it. The _Longisquama_ fossils were recovered from Osh Province in the southwestern tip of the Kyrgyz Republic (nee Kyrgyzstan). Although the Kyrgyz Republic as a whole is a lot more stable than some of its neighboring former Soviet Republics, the same cannot be said for its southwestern portion. This part of the Kyrgyz Republic borders both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and Islamic rebels from the former have been using it to gain entry into the latter, so they can stir up trouble. Last year four Japanese geologists were taken hostage (they were later released). I can't see too many paleontologists rushing into this remote part of Central Asia any time soon.

A shame. Reading Michael Novacek's _Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs_ (1996) really brought home to me just how important political considerations are in organizing a paleo expedition. One of the reasons the AMNH is trying to send an expedition to Mongolia *every* season is that they want to excavate as much as possible in case the Mongolian economy (and with it the entire political system of the country) goes belly-up, shutting the window of opportunity once gain. Look at the Tendaguru Beds. Although there's been a bit of poking around since colonial times, these beds are effectively off-limits due to the political situation in Tanzania.

As I said: a shame.


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