Ancient Clues Uncovered
- Grades: 3–5
In the summer of 1993 scientists from the United States and Mongolia uncovered hundreds of ancient skeletons in Mongolia's Gobi Desert. Some of the bones belonged to meat-eating dinosaurs. Others came from lizards, birds, and mammals. For almost a year, the scientist have studied the bones they found. Now, the scientists say this discovery may give them new information about why dinosaurs became extinct.
Dr. Michael Novacek of the U.S. led the Gobi Desert project. For 10 days, his team dug deep into the dusty soil and gently removed the skeletons. When they were finished, Dr. Novacek said. "We found perhaps the richest pocket of bones [in dinosaur history]!"
Scientists are excited about the Gobi discovery because the bones come from Cretaceous (krih-TAY-shuhs) period. That is the time when dinosaurs became extinct. By studying the bones, scientists can learn more about what was happening to dinosaurs just before they disappeared from Earth.
Scientists are also examining the mammal bones they found. Large numbers of mammals began appearing during the Cretaceous period. Scientists want to know how these creatures developed into the mammals we see today.
Other information about the prehistoric world may come from looking at these discoveries;
Skeletons of a rare bird called a mononykus. These bones may help solve the riddle of how modern birds developed.
Skull of an oviraptor. Until now, scientists were not sure what this dino's head looked like. Now they can give a complete description.
In the next few years, scientists will keep working in the Gobi. They expect to uncover species of dinosaurs that no one has seen before. They will have a lot of work to do naming these creatures. But the scientists are happy to put their minds and their shovels to work — digging up buried treasure.