Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert (/ˈɡoʊ.bi/) is a large desert region in Asia.[1] It covers parts of Northern and Northwestern China, and of southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Taklamakan Desert to the west, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the southwest, and by the North China Plain to the southeast. The Gobi is notable in history as part of the great Mongol Empire, and as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road.

The Gobi is a rain shadow desert, formed by the Tibetan Plateau blocking precipitation from the Indian Ocean reaching the Gobi territory.

Gobi Desert
Говь
戈壁 (沙漠)
Gēbì (shāmò)
GobiTaklamakanMap
The Gobi Desert lies in the territory of the People's Republic of China and Mongolia.
Length1,500 km (930 mi)
Width800 km (500 mi)
Area1,295,000 km2 (500,000 sq mi)
Geography
CountriesChina and Mongolia
Mongolian Aimags
RegionInner Mongolia
Coordinates42°35′N 103°26′E / 42.59°N 103.43°E
Gobi Desert
Chinese name
Chinese戈壁
Transcriptions
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinGēbì
IPA[kɤ́.pî]
other Mandarin
Xiao'erjingقْبِ
Mongolian name
Mongolian CyrillicГовь
Mongolian scriptᠭᠣᠪᠢ
Transcriptions
SASM/GNCGowĭ

Geography

The Gobi measures over 1,600 km (1,000 mi) from southwest to northeast and 800 km (500 mi) from north to south. The desert is widest in the west, along the line joining the Lake Bosten and the Lop Nor (87°–89° east). It occupies an arc of land 1,295,000 km2 (500,000 sq mi)[2] in area as of 2007; it is the fifth-largest desert in the world and Asia's second largest. Much of the Gobi is not sandy but has exposed bare rock.

In its broadest definition, the Gobi includes the long stretch of desert extending from the foot of the Pamirs (77° east) to the Greater Khingan Mountains, 116°-118° east, on the border of Manchuria; and from the foothills of the Altay, Sayan, and Yablonoi mountain ranges on the north to the Kunlun, Altyn-Tagh, and Qilian mountain ranges, which form the northern edges of the Tibetan Plateau, on the south.[3]

A relatively large area on the east side of the Greater Khingan range, between the upper waters of the Songhua (Sungari) and the upper waters of the Liao-ho, is reckoned to belong to the Gobi by conventional usage. Some geographers and ecologists prefer to regard the western area of the Gobi region (as defined above): the basin of the Tarim in Xinjiang and the desert basin of Lop Nor and Hami (Kumul), as forming a separate and independent desert, called the Taklamakan Desert.

Archeologists and paleontologists have done excavations in the Nemegt Basin in the northwestern part of the Gobi Desert (in Mongolia), which is noted for its fossil treasures, including early mammals, dinosaur eggs, and prehistoric stone implements, some 100,000 years old.[4]

Climate

Gobi Desert
Sand dunes in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
GobiFlood
A summer monsoon produces a flash flood, 2004
Остаткистены
Remains of the Great Wall of China in the Gobi Desert

The Gobi is overall a cold desert, with frost and occasionally snow occurring on its dunes. Besides being quite far north, it is also located on a plateau roughly 910–1,520 metres (2,990–4,990 ft) above sea level, which contributes to its low temperatures. An average of approximately 194 millimetres (7.6 in) of rain falls annually in the Gobi. Additional moisture reaches parts of the Gobi in winter as snow is blown by the wind from the Siberian Steppes. These winds may cause the Gobi to reach −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter to 45 °C (113 °F) in summer.[5]

However, the climate of the Gobi is one of great extremes, combined with rapid changes of temperature of as much as 35 °C (63 °F). These can occur not only seasonally but within 24 hours.

Temperature
Sivantse (1190 m) [6] Ulaanbaatar (1150 m)
Annual mean −2.5 °C (27.5 °F) −0.4 °C (31.3 °F)
January mean −26.5 °C (−15.7 °F) −21.6 °C (−6.9 °F)
July mean 17.5 °C (63.5 °F) 18.2 °C (64.8 °F)
Extremes −47 to 34 °C (−53 to 93 °F) −42.2 to 39.0 °C (−44.0 to 102.2 °F)

In southern Mongolia, the temperature has been recorded as low as −32.8 °C (−27.0 °F). In contrast, in Alxa, Inner Mongolia, it rises as high as 37 °C (99 °F) in July.

Average winter minimums are a frigid −21 °C (−6 °F), while summertime maximums are a warm 27 °C (81 °F). Most of the precipitation falls during the summer.[7]

Although the southeast monsoons reach the southeast parts of the Gobi, the area throughout this region is generally characterized by extreme dryness, especially during the winter, when the Siberian anticyclone is at its strongest. The southern and central parts of the Gobi Desert have variable plant growth due to this monsoon activity. The more northern areas of the Gobi are very cold and dry, making it unable to support much plant growth; this cold and dry weather is attributed to Siberian-Mongolian high pressure cells.[1] Hence, the icy sandstorms and snowstorms of spring and early summer plus early January (winter).

Conservation, ecology, and economy

The Gobi Desert is the source of many important fossil finds, including the first dinosaur eggs.

Despite the harsh conditions, these deserts and the surrounding regions sustain many animals, including black-tailed gazelles, marbled polecats, wild Bactrian camels, Mongolian wild ass and sandplovers. They are occasionally visited by snow leopards, brown bears, and wolves. Lizards are especially well-adapted to the climate of the Gobi Desert, with approximately 30 species distributed across its southern Mongolian border.[8] The most common vegetation in the Gobi desert are shrubs adapted to drought.[9] These shrubs included gray sparrow's saltwort (Salsola passerina), gray sagebrush, and low grasses such as needle grass and bridlegrass. Due to livestock grazing, the amount of shrubs in the desert has decreased.[9] Several large nature reserves have been established in the Gobi, including Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Great Gobi A and Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area.

The area is vulnerable to trampling by livestock and off-road vehicles (effects from human intervention are greater in the eastern Gobi Desert, where rainfall is heavier and may sustain livestock). In Mongolia, grasslands have been degraded by goats, which are raised by nomadic herders as source of cashmere wool.[10]

Large copper deposits are being mined by Rio Tinto Group.[11] The mine was and remains controversial. There was significant opposition in Mongolia's parliament to the terms under which the mine will proceed, and some are calling for the terms to be renegotiated. Specifically, the contention revolves primarily around the question of whether negotiations were fair (Rio Tinto is far better resourced) and whether Rio Tinto will pay adequate taxes on the revenues it derives from the mine (an agreement was reached whereby the operation will be exempt from windfall tax.[12]

Desertification

The Gobi Desert is expanding at an alarming rate, in a process known as desertification. The expansion is particularly rapid on the southern edge into China, which has seen 3,600 km2 (1,390 sq mi) of grassland overtaken every year by the Gobi Desert. Dust storms, which used to occur regularly in China, have increased in frequency in the past 20 years, mainly due to desertification. They have caused further damage to China's agriculture economy.

The northern and eastern boundaries between desert and grassland are constantly changing. This is mostly due to the climate conditions before the growing season, which influence the rate of evapotranspiration and subsequent plant growth.[13]

The expansion of the Gobi is attributed mostly to human activities, notably deforestation, overgrazing, and depletion of water resources. China has tried various plans to slow the expansion of the desert, which have met with some small degree of success, but no major effects. The most recent project is called the Three-North Shelter Forest Program which features huge strips of newly planted forests; the government hopes the forests will help stabilize the soil, retain moisture, and act as a buffer against further desertification.[14]

Ecoregions

The Gobi, broadly defined, can be divided into five distinct dry ecoregions, based on variations in climate and topography:

  • Eastern Gobi desert steppe, the easternmost of the Gobi ecoregions, covering an area of 281,800 km2 (108,804 sq mi). It extends from the Inner Mongolian Plateau in China northward into Mongolia. It includes the Yin Mountains and many low-lying areas with salt pans and small ponds. It is bounded by the Mongolian-Manchurian grassland to the north, the Yellow River Plain to the southeast, and the Alashan Plateau semi-desert to the southeast and east.
  • Alashan Plateau semi-desert, lies west and southwest of the Eastern Gobi desert steppe. It consists of the desert basins and low mountains lying between the Gobi Altai range on the north, the Helan Mountains to the southeast, and the Qilian Mountains and northeastern portion of the Tibetan Plateau on the southwest.
  • Gobi Lakes Valley desert steppe, ecoregion lies north of Alashan Plateau semi-desert, between the Gobi Altai range to the south and the Khangai Mountains to the north.
  • Dzungarian Basin semi-desert, includes the desert basin lying between the Altai mountains on the north and the Tian Shan range on the south. It includes the northern portion of China's Xinjiang province and extends into the southeastern corner of Mongolia. The Alashan Plateau semi-desert lies to the east, and the Emin Valley steppe to the west, on the China-Kazakhstan border.
  • Tian Shan range, separates the Dzungarian Basin semi-desert from the Taklamakan Desert, which is a low, sandy desert basin surrounded by the high mountain ranges of the Tibetan Plateau to the south and the Pamirs to the west. The Taklamakan Desert ecoregion includes the Desert of Lop.

Eastern Gobi desert steppe

Khulan
A Khulan (Mongolian wild ass) on a hill in the eastern Gobi of Mongolia at sunset.

The surface is extremely diversified, although there are no great differences in vertical elevation. Between Ulaanbaatar (48°00′N 107°00′E / 48.000°N 107.000°E) and the small lake of Iren-dubasu-nor (43°45′N 111°50′E / 43.750°N 111.833°E), the surface is greatly eroded. Broad flat depressions and basins are separated by groups of flat-topped mountains of relatively low elevation 150 to 180 m (490 to 590 ft)), through which archaic rocks crop out as crags and isolated rugged masses. The floors of the depressions lie mostly between 900 to 1,000 m (3,000 to 3,300 ft) above sea-level. Farther south, between Iren-dutiasu-nor and the Yellow River, comes a region of broad tablelands alternating with flat plains, the latter ranging at altitudes of 1000–1100 m and the former at 1,070 to 1,200 m (3,510 to 3,940 ft). The slopes of the plateaus are more or less steep, and are sometimes penetrated by "bays" of the lowlands.

As the border-range of the Hyangan is approached, the country steadily rises up to 1,370 m (4,490 ft) and then to 1,630 m (5,350 ft). Here small lakes frequently fill the depressions, though the water in them is generally salt or brackish. Both here and for 320 km (199 mi) south of Ulaanbaatar, streams are frequent and grass grows more or less abundantly. Through all the central parts, until the bordering mountains are reached, trees and shrubs are utterly absent. Clay and sand are the predominant formations; the watercourses, especially in the north, being frequently excavated 2 to 3 m (6 ft 7 in to 9 ft 10 in) deep. In many places in the flat, dry valleys or depressions farther south, beds of loess, 5 to 6 m (16 to 20 ft) thick, are exposed. West of the route from Ulaanbaatar to Kalgan, the country presents approximately the same general features, except that the mountains are not so irregularly scattered in groups but have more strongly defined strikes, mostly east to west, west-north-west to east-south-east, and west-south-west to east-north-east.

The altitudes are higher, those of the lowlands ranging from 1,000 to 1,700 m (3,300 to 5,600 ft), and those of the ranges from 200 to 500 m (660 to 1,640 ft) higher, though in a few cases they reach altitudes of 2,400 m (7,900 ft). The elevations do not form continuous chains, but make up a congeries of short ridges and groups rising from a common base and intersected by a labyrinth of ravines, gullies, glens and basins. But the tablelands, built up of the horizontal red deposits of the Han-gai (Obruchev's Gobi formation) which are characteristic of the southern parts of eastern Mongolia, are absent here or occur only in one locality, near the Shara-muren river. They are greatly intersected by gullies or dry watercourses. Water is scarce, with no streams, no lakes, no wells, and precipitation falls seldom. The prevailing winds blow from the west and northwest, and the pall of dust overhangs the country as in the Takla Makan and the desert of Lop. Characteristic of the flora are wild garlic, Kalidium gracile, wormwood, saxaul, Nitraria schoberi, Caragana, Ephedra, saltwort and the grass Lasiagrostis splendens. The taana wild onion Allium polyrrhizum is the main browse eaten by many herd animals, and Mongolians claim that this is essential to produce the correct, slightly hazelnut-like flavour of camel airag (fermented milk).

This great desert country of Gobi is crossed by several trade routes, some of which have been in use for thousands of years. Among the most important are those from Kalgan (at the Great Wall) to Ulaanbaatar (960 km (597 mi)); from Jiuquan (in Gansu) to Hami 670 km (416 mi); from Hami to Beijing (2,000 km (1,243 mi)); from Hohhot to Hami and Barkul; and from Lanzhou (in Gansu) to Hami.

Alashan Plateau semi-desert

The southwestern portion of the Gobi, known also as the Hsi-tau and the Little Gobi, fills the space between the great north loop of the Yellow River on the east, the Ejin River on the west, and the Qilian Mountains and narrow rocky chain of Longshou, 3,200 to 3,500 m (10,500 to 11,500 ft) in altitude, on the southwest. The Ordos Desert, which covers the northeastern portion of the Ordos Plateau, in the great north loop of the Yellow River, is part of this ecoregion. It belongs to the middle basin of the three great depressions into which Potanin divides the Gobi as a whole.

"Topographically," says Nikolai Przhevalsky, "it is a perfectly level plain, which in all probability once formed the bed of a huge lake or inland sea." He concludes this based on the level area of the region as a whole, the hard saldgine clay and the sand-strewn surface and, lastly, the salt lakes which occupy its lowest parts. For hundreds of kilometers, nothing can be seen but bare sands; in some places they continue so far without a break that the Mongols call them Tengger (i.e. sky). These vast expanses are absolutely waterless, nor do any oases relieve the unbroken stretches of yellow sand, which alternate with equally vast areas of saline clay or, nearer the foot of the mountains, with barren shingle. Although on the whole a level country with a general altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 m (3,300 to 4,900 ft), this section, like most other parts of the Gobi, is crowned by a chequered network of hills and broken ranges going up 300 m higher. The vegetation is confined to a few varieties of bushes and a dozen kinds of grasses and herbs, the most conspicuous being saxaul (Haloxylon ammondendron) and Agriophyllum gobicum. The others include prickly convolvulus, field wormwood (Artemisia campestris), acacia, Inula ammophila, Sophora flavescens, Convolvulus ammanii, Peganum and Astragalus species, but all dwarfed, deformed and starved. The fauna consists of little but antelope, wolf, fox, hare, hedgehog, marten, numerous lizards and a few birds, e.g. the sandgrouse, lark, stonechat, sparrow, crane, Henderson's ground jay (Podoces hendersoni), horned lark (Eremophila alpestris), and crested lark (Galerida cristata).

Dzungarian Basin semi-desert

The structure here is that of the mighty T'ien Shan, or Heavenly Mountains, running from west to east. It divides the northern one-third of Sinkiang from the southern two-thirds. On the northern side, rivers formed from the snow and glaciers of the high mountains break through barren foothill ranges and flow out into an immense, hollow plain. Here the rivers begin to straggle and fan out, and form great marshes with dense reed-beds. Westerners call this terrain the Dzungarian desert. The Chinese also call it a desert, but the Mongols call it a 'gobi'—that is, a land of thin herbage, more suitable for camels than for cows, but capable also, if herds are kept small and moved frequently, of sustaining horses, sheep, and goats. The herbage comprises a high proportion of woody, fragrant plants. Gobi mutton is the most aromatic in the world.[15]

The Yulduz valley or valley of the Haidag-gol (43°N 83°E / 43°N 83°E43°N 86°E / 43°N 86°E) is a mini desert enclosed by two prominent members of the Shanashen Trahen Osh mountain range, namely the chucis and the kracenard pine rallies, running perpendicular and far from one another. As they proceed south, they transcend and transpose, sweeping back on east and west respectively, with Lake Bosten in between. These two ranges mark the northern and the southern edges respectively of a great swelling, which extends eastward for nearly twenty degrees of longitude. On its northern side, the Chol-tagh descends steeply, and its foot is fringed by a string of deep depressions, ranging from Lukchun (130 m (427 ft) below sea level) to Hami (850 m (2,789 ft) above sea-level). To the south of the Kuruk-tagh lie the desert of Lop Nur, the Kum-tagh desert, and the valley of the Bulunzir-gol. To this great swelling, which arches up between the two border-ranges of the Chol-tagh and Kuruk-tagh, the Mongols give the name of Ghashuun-Gobi or "Salt Desert". It is some 130 to 160 km (81 to 99 mi) across from north to south, and is traversed by a number of minor parallel ranges, ridges and chains of hills. Down its middle runs a broad stony valley, 40 to 80 km (25 to 50 mi) wide, at an elevation of 900 to 1,370 m (2,950 to 4,490 ft). The Chol-tagh, which reaches an average altitude of 1,800 m (5,900 ft), is absolutely sterile, and its northern foot rests upon a narrow belt of barren sand, which leads down to the depressions mentioned above.

The Kuruk-tagh is the greatly disintegrated, denuded and wasted relic of a mountain range which used to be of incomparably greater magnitude. In the west, between Lake Bosten and the Tarim, it consists of two, possibly of three, principal ranges, which, although broken in continuity, run generally parallel to one another, and embrace between them numerous minor chains of heights. These minor ranges, together with the principal ranges, divide the region into a series of long; narrow valleys, mostly parallel to one another and to the enclosing mountain chains, which descend like terraced steps, on the one side towards the depression of Lukchun and on the other towards the desert of Lop.

In many cases these latitudinal valleys are barred transversely by ridges or spurs, generally elevations en masse of the bottom of the valley. Where such elevations exist, there is generally found, on the east side of the transverse ridge, a cauldron-shaped depression, which some time or other has been the bottom of a former lake, but is now nearly a dry salt-basin. The surface configuration is in fact markedly similar to that which occurs in the inter-mount latitudinal valleys of the Kunlun Mountains. The hydrography of the Ghashiun-Gobi and the Kuruk-tagh is determined by these chequered arrangements of the latitudinal valleys. Most of the principal streams, instead of flowing straight down these valleys, cross them diagonally and only turn west after they have cut their way through one or more of the transverse barrier ranges.

To the highest range on the great swelling Grumm-Grzhimailo gives the name of Tuge-tau, its altitude being 2,700 m (8,858 ft) above the level of the sea and some 1,200 m (3,937 ft) above the crown of the swelling itself. This range he considers to belong to the Choltagh system, whereas Sven Hedin would assign it to the Kuruk-tagh. This last, which is pretty certainly identical with the range of Kharateken-ula (also known as the Kyzyl-sanghir, Sinir, and Singher Mountains), that overlooks the southern shore of the Lake Bosten, though parted from it by the drift-sand desert of Ak-bel-kum (White Pass Sands), has at first a west-northwest to east-southeast strike, but it gradually curves round like a scimitar towards the east-northeast and at the same time gradually decreases in elevation.

In 91° east, while the principal range of the Kuruk-tagh system wheels to the east-northeast, four of its subsidiary ranges terminate, or rather die away somewhat suddenly, on the brink of a long narrow depression (in which Sven Hedin sees a northeast bay of the former great Central Asian lake of Lop-nor), having over against them the écheloned terminals of similar subordinate ranges of the Pe-shan (Boy-san) system (see below). The Kuruk-tagh is throughout a relatively low, but almost completely barren range, being entirely destitute of animal life, save for hares, antelopes and wild camels, which frequent its few small, widely scattered oases. The vegetation, which is confined to these same relatively favoured spots, is of the scantiest and is mainly confined to bushes of saxaul (Haloxylon), anabasis, reeds (kamish), tamarisks, poplars, and Ephedra.

European exploration

The Gobi had a long history of human habitation, mostly by nomadic peoples. By the early 20th century, the region was under the nominal control of Manchu-China, and inhabited mostly by Mongols, Uyghurs, and Kazakhs. The Gobi Desert as a whole was known only very imperfectly to outsiders, and information was confined to observations by individual travellers from their respective itineraries across the desert. Among the European explorers who contributed to the understanding of the Gobi, the most important were the following:

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Sternberg, Troy; Rueff, Henri; Middleton, Nick (2015-01-26). "Contraction of the Gobi Desert, 2000–2012". Remote Sensing. 7 (2): 1346–1358. doi:10.3390/rs70201346.
  2. ^ Wright, John W., ed. (2006). The New York Times Almanac (2007 ed.). New York, New York: Penguin Books. p. 456. ISBN 978-0-14-303820-7.
  3. ^ Hare, John (2009-11-01). "The Mysteries of the Gobi Desert". Asian Affairs. 40 (3): 408–417. doi:10.1080/03068370903195196. ISSN 0306-8374.
  4. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Zofia (1975). "Late Cretaceous Mammals and Dinosaurs from the Gobi Desert: Fossils excavated by the Polish-Mongolian Paleontological Expeditions of 1963–71 cast new light on primitive mammals and dinosaurs and on faunal interchange between Asia and North America". American Scientist. 63 (2): 150–159. doi:10.2307/27845359 (inactive 2018-09-07). JSTOR 27845359.
  5. ^ Planet Earth, BBC TV series 2006 UK, 2007 US, "Episode 5".
  6. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1910). The Encyclopedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, Volumes 11-12. Encyclopedia Britannica Company. p. 168.
  7. ^ "Climate". The Gobi Desert.
  8. ^ Keqin, Gao; Norell, Mark A. (2000-03-01). "Taxonomic composition and systematics of late Cretaceous lizard assemblages from Ukhaa Tolgod and adjacent localities". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 249: 1–118. doi:10.1206/0003-0090(2000)2492.0.CO;2 (inactive 2018-09-07). ISSN 0003-0090.
  9. ^ a b Liu, Ji-Liang; Li, Feng-Rui; Liu, Chang-An; Liu, Qi-Jun (2012-09-01). "Influences of shrub vegetation on distribution and diversity of a ground beetle community in a Gobi desert ecosystem". Biodiversity and Conservation. 21 (10): 2601–2619. doi:10.1007/s10531-012-0320-4. ISSN 0960-3115.
  10. ^ Yiruhan, I. (2001). Changes in floristic composition of grasslands according to grazing intensity in inner Mongolia, China. Journal of Japanese Society of Grassland Science, 47, 362-369.
  11. ^ "Oyu Tol".
  12. ^ "Rio set to open mammoth Mongolian mine". Retrieved 2012-11-20.
  13. ^ F. Yu, K. P. Price, J. Ellis, J. J. Feddema, P. Shi (2004). "Interannual variations of the grassland boundaries bordering the eastern edges of the Gobi Desert in central Asia". International Journal of Remote Sensing. 25: 327–346.
  14. ^ Parungo, Farn; Zhe, Li; Xingsheng, LI; Yang, Dongzeng; Harris, Joyce (1994-06-01). "Gobi dust storms and The Great Green Wall". Geophysical Research Letters. 21 (11): 999–1002. doi:10.1029/94GL00879. ISSN 1944-8007.
  15. ^ Lattimore (1973), p. 238.
  16. ^ "Romance Gone, Given Divorce". The Evening News. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. July 28, 1926. p. 1. Retrieved October 4, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)). In 1902, while Lesdain was leading an expedition through the Gobi desert, he crossed the path of another explorer. This latter proved to be Miss Mailey who, dressed in men's clothes, commanded her expedition with assurance borne of the safe culmination of many adventures.

References

  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gobi". Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 165.
  • Owen Lattimore. (1973) "Return to China's Northern Frontier". The Geographical Journal, Vol. 139, No. 2 (June 1973), pp. 233–242.

Further reading

  • Cable, Mildred and French, Francesca (1943) The Gobi Desert Landsborough Publications, London, OCLC 411792.
  • Man, John (1997) Gobi: Tracking the Desert Yale University Press, New Haven, ISBN 0-300-07609-6.
  • Stewart, Stanley (2001) In the Empire of Genghis Khan: A Journey among Nomads HarperCollins Publishers, London, ISBN 0-00-653027-3.
  • Thayer, Helen (2007) Walking the Gobi: 1,600 Mile-trek Across a Desert of Hope and Despair Mountaineer Books, Seattle, WA, ISBN 978-1-59485-064-6.
  • Younghusband, Francis (1904) The Heart of a Continent, John Murray.

External links

Coordinates: 42°35′N 103°26′E / 42.59°N 103.43°E

Amtocephale

Amtocephale (meaning "Amtgai head") is a genus of pachycephalosaurid dinosaur from early Late Cretaceous (Turonian-Santonian stages) deposits of southern Gobi Desert, Mongolia.

Amtocephale is known from the holotype MPC-D 100/1203, a nearly complete frontoparietal dome of a subadult individual. It was collected from the Baynshire Formation at the Amtgai locality. Amtocephale was first named by Mahito Watabe, Khishigjaw Tsogtbaatar and Robert M. Sullivan in 2011 and the type species is Amtocephale gobiensis. The generic name combines a reference to the Amtgai site with a Greek κεφαλή, kephale, "head". The specific name refers to the provenance from the Gobi.The frontoparietal dome, formed by a fusion of the frontals in front and the parietals in the back, has a length of 53.2 millimetres and a maximal thickness of nineteen millimetres. The contribution to the dome length of the parietal part is exceptionally large, with a portion of 41%.Amtocephale was assigned to the Pachycephalosauridae and is perhaps the oldest pachycephalosaurid known, depending on the exact age of the formation.

Dornogovi Province

Dornogovi (Mongolian: Дорноговь, East Gobi) is one of the 21 aimags (provinces) of Mongolia. It is located in the southeast of the country, bordering PR China's autonomous region of Inner Mongolia.

Dornogovi is located in the Gobi desert and frequent sand- and snow storms amplify the hard weather conditions of Mongolia. Temperatures can range from −40 °C (−40 °F) to 40 °C (104 °F) with ground temperatures as high as 60 °C or 140 °F.

Dornogovi has ample reservers of groundwater, but no lakes or rivers.

Estesia

Estesia (in honour of Richard Estes) is an extinct genus of Late Cretaceous helodermatoid lizard found in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. It was discovered in June 1990 by a joint expedition made up of Mongolian and American palaeontologists, and described in 1992 by Mark Norell, Malcolm McKenna and Michael Novacek. This animal is of interest to palaeontologists, not only because it is close to the lineage of modern Gila monsters (Heloderma), but also because its dentition shows evidence that it was venomous.

The type species is E. mongoliensis, after Mongolia, where it was found.

Flaming Cliffs

The Flaming Cliffs site, also known as Bayanzag, sometimes Bain-Dzak, (Mongolian: Баянзаг rich in saxaul), with the alternative Mongolian name of Mongolian: Улаан Эрэг (red cliffs), is a region of the Gobi Desert in the Ömnögovi Province of Mongolia, in which important fossil finds have been made. It was given this name by American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews, who visited in the 1920s. The area is most famous for yielding the first discovery of dinosaur eggs. Other finds in the area include specimens of Velociraptor and eutherian mammals. It is illegal to remove fossils from the area without appropriate permits.The nickname refers to the red or orange color of the sandstone cliffs (especially at a sunset),.

Gobekko

Gobekko is an extinct genus of gecko or gecko-like lizard from the Late Cretaceous Djadokhta Formation of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Gobekko is either a basal member of Gekkota, the group that includes geckos and the legless pygopodid lizards, or a stem-gekkotan outside Gekkota but within the larger group Gekkonomorpha. It is the fourth oldest known member of Gekkonomorpha after Hoburogekko, a gecko from the Early Cretaceous of Mongolia, AMNH FR21444, an unnamed specimen also from the Early Cretaceous of Mongolia, and Cretaceogekko, a gecko preserved in amber from the Early Cretaceous of Burma.

Gobi Altai mountain vole

The Gobi Altai mountain vole (Alticola barakshin) is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae. It can be found in China, Mongolia, and the Russian Federation.

Gobi big brown bat

The Gobi big brown bat (Eptesicus gobiensis) is a species of vesper bat. It is found in Afghanistan, China, India, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Russia. Russian zoologist Professor Count Nikolay Alekseyevich Bobrinski first described it in 1926, the type specimen coming from the Altai Mountains in the Gobi Desert.

Gobiderma

Gobiderma is an extinct genus of Late Cretaceous lizard whose fossils are known from the Gobi Desert in southern Mongolia. It was first discovered as a result of a joint Polish-Mongolian Paleontological Expedition, and formally named in 1984. In life, it probably resembled lizards of the genus Heloderma to a large degree, though its skull was more elongated than lizards of that genus.

Gobiosuchus

Gobiosuchus ("Gobi [desert] crocodile") was a gobiosuchid crocodyliform described in 1972 by Polish palaeontologist Halszka Osmólska. It hails from the Late Cretaceous (Early Campanian) of Bayn Dzak (Djadokhta Formation), in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.

Its type species is G. kielanae.

Gobipteryx

Gobipteryx (from Gobi [referring to the Gobi Desert where it was first discovered], Greek pteron “wing”) is a genus of prehistoric bird from the Campanian Age of the Late Cretaceous Period. It is not known to have any direct descendants. Like the rest of the enantiornithes clade, Gobipteryx is thought to have gone extinct near the end of the Cretaceous.

Graciliceratops

Graciliceratops (meaning 'graceful horned face') is a small ceratopsian dinosaur originally described by Teresa Maryańska and Halszka Osmólska in 1975 and referred to Microceratops gobiensis. It was later redescribed as a new genus and species by Paul Sereno in 2000. It is known from the Late Cretaceous period and its fossils were found in Mongolia. Only a partial skeleton has been found. The type (and only known) species is Graciliceratops mongoliensis.

Graciliceratops is known from Shireegiin Gashuun Formation in Mongolia's Gobi Desert, north of the Nemegt Basin. The Shireegiin Gashuun locality is thought to be older than the Djadokhta localities that produced Protoceratops, and is probably early Late Cretaceous in age. The relationships of the genus are unclear, however the frill has large fenestrae bounded by very slender struts. This structure is very similar to that of the later Protoceratops.The skull of the animal measures an estimated twenty centimetres, and the whole animal would have been about the size of a cat. However, the arches and bodies of the vertebrae are not fused, which suggests that the animal was not fully grown when it died. The adult may have approached Protoceratops in size, which grew to around two meters.Like other ceratopsians, Graciliceratops would have been an herbivore, using its powerful beak and shearing teeth to process tough plant matter. Little is known about the flora of the ancient Gobi Desert, and so it is unclear what it would have eaten.

Hami Desert

The Desert of Hami (Chinese: 哈密沙漠; pinyin: Hāmì Shāmò, Uyhgur: Қумул Қумлуқи) is a section of the Gobi Desert in Xinjiang, China that occupies the space between the Tian Shan system on the north and the Nan-shan Mountains on the south, and is connected on the west with the Desert of Lop.

Minotaurasaurus

Minotaurasaurus is a genus of ankylosaurine ankylosaurid dinosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous. It was named in 2009 by Clifford A. Miles and Clark J. Miles and the type species is Minotaurasaurus ramachandrani. The generic name is explained by the describers as meaning "man-bull lizard"; the specific epithet honours Vilayanur S. Ramachandran who purchased the fossil for $10,000 from the trader Hollis Butts, based in Japan, and made it available to science. It is known only from a complete skull of unknown provenance, but probably recovered from the Gobi Desert. While it had a distinctive armored bull-like head and a more primitive braincase, it shares the typical features of an ankylosaurid.

A controversy has surfaced around the provenance of this skull. Some paleontologists claim that this fossil was removed from the Gobi desert without the permission of the Chinese government and sold without proper documentation. V.S. Ramachandran, who purchased the fossil in Tucson, Arizona (United States), says that he would be happy to repatriate the fossil to the appropriate nation, if someone shows him "evidence it was exported without permit". For a short time, the specimen was on loan to the Victor Valley Museum in Apple Valley, California, but in 2007, Ramachandran reacquired it.A 2014 study by Victoria Arbour, Philip Currie, and Demchig Badamgarav concluded that Minotaurasaurus ramachandrani is probably a junior synonym of Tarchia kielanae; a redescription of the cranial anatomy of Tarchia in 2016, however, concluded that Minotaurasaurus was a distinct taxon.

Mongolian death worm

The Mongolian death worm (Mongolian: олгой-хорхой, olgoi-khorkhoi, "large intestine worm") is a creature

alleged to exist in the Gobi Desert.

The creature first came to Western attention as a result of Roy Chapman Andrews's 1926 book On the Trail of Ancient Man. The American paleontologist was not convinced by the tales of the monster that he heard at a gathering of Mongolian officials: "None of those present ever had seen the creature, but they all firmly believed in its existence and described it minutely."In 1983 a specimen of Tartar sand boa (Eryx tataricus) was shown to locals who claimed to have seen "olgoi-khorkhoi" and they confirmed that this was the animal they called "olgoi-khorkhoi".

Three-North Shelter Forest Program

The Three-North Shelter Forest Program (simplified Chinese: 三北防护林; traditional Chinese: 三北防護林; pinyin: Sānběi Fánghùlín), also known as the Three-North Shelterbelt Program or the Green Great Wall, is a series of human-planted windbreaking forest strips (shelterbelts) in China, designed to hold back the expansion of the Gobi Desert. The program started in 1978, and is planned to be completed around 2050, at which point it will be 4,500 kilometres (2,800 mi) long.

The project's name indicates that it is to be carried out in all three of the northern regions: the North, the Northeast and the Northwest. This project has historical precedences dating back to before the Common Era. However, in premodern periods, government sponsored afforestation projects along the historical frontier regions were mostly for military fortification.

Tsagantegia

Tsagantegia (; meaning "of Tsagan-Teg"; Tumanova, 1993) is a genus of medium-sized ankylosaurid dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous Mongolia, during the Cenomanian stage.

The holotype specimen (GI SPS N 700/17), a complete skull, was recovered from the Bayan Shireh Formation (Cenomanian-Santonian), at the Tsagan-Teg ("White Mountain") locality, Dzun-Bayan, in the southeastern Gobi Desert, Mongolia. The genus is monotypic, including only the type species, T. longicranialis.

Yin Mountains

The Yin Mountains (simplified Chinese: 阴山; traditional Chinese: 陰山; pinyin: Yīnshān), also known colloquially as the Daqing Mountains (Chinese: 大青山; pinyin: Dàqīngshān), and in Mongolian as Dalan Qara, Dalan Terigün, Dalan Khar, Moni Agula, and Moni Uul, are mountains in the steppe forming the southern border of the eastern Gobi Desert of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, as well as the northern part of Hebei province.

The range stretches for about 1,000 km, beginning in the south-west as Lang Shan at the northern loop of the Yellow River, rising to some 2300 m above Linhe District, falling to a more modest 1500 m north of Wuyuan, and widening to a broad highland north of Baotou, stretching north-east as far as Jehol.

Chinese sources of 200 BCE report that the range was a stronghold of the Xiongnu ruler Modu Chanyu. The Qin and Han dynasties's Great Wall follows its southern slopes.

The Chinese poet Bai Juyi (772 - 846), who lived under the Tang dynasty wrote a poem on "Yinshan roads".

Among other things, the range is notable for petroglyphs.

Ömnögovi Province

Ömnögovi (Mongolian: Өмнөговь Ömnögovǐ, South Gobi) is an aimag (province) of Mongolia, located in the south of the country, in the Gobi Desert. Ömnögovi is Mongolia's largest aimag. The capital is Dalanzadgad.

The province is rich in mineral deposits, including gold and copper. Agriculture is of minor importance. Vegetables are grown in some oases, e.g. in Dal near Dalanzadgad.

As the aimag has various sights to offer, tourism is gaining importance. Ömnögovi includes several well known tourist areas, including the Flaming Cliffs, Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park and Khongoryn Els - The Singing Sand Dunes.

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