This is day 15 in Zhada Basin. The basin is scenic as usual (see
attached picture; background is one of the 6000-meter plus peaks of
the Himalayas), although it's quite dry this year -- good thing for
vert paleontologists but presumably bad for local economy.
The collecting has been good. In addition to the usual horses, rhinos,
and bovids, we got four taxa that are new records for the basin. Two
of them are giraffes: a perfect ossicone of Palaeotragus and a pair of
ossicones of rather modern-looking giraffid that we no idea what to
make of it. The other two new records are a dog (Xenocyon) and a cat
(Lynx?). Furthermore, we got some nice cranial and dental materials of
a raccoon dog (previously known by an edentulous jaw frag).
We will wrap up our Zhada works in a day or two, and, to expand our
horizons, plan to spend a few days in 2-3 small basins in nearby
Usually this the job of Jack's, but since he is not with us, my own
writings will have to do.
We have just finished a small campaign in a sub-basin of Qaidam called
Hongyazi in northern Tibetan Plateau, our usual practice of acclimating
ourselves in relative low elevation before heading up to high Tibet.
Hongyazi is kind of new to us (discovered only last year), but we
already managed to find faunas of early Miocene, middle Mioc, plus
Hipparion fauna previous known here. This the most beautiful site in
Qaidam -- towering snow peaks, melting snow water meandering through
lush grasses, wild geese and ducks. Although at a relatively low
elevation of 3700 m, it's cold enough to freeze at night, but it's been
fun in the last few days.
Our next goal is Zhada Basin. It will take us about a week to get there,
with a two-day lay over in Lhasa. Sitting in our car heading to Lhasa,
there are a lot of time in our hands...
With the arrival of team members Xiaoming and Mike, the 2011 field expedition to Inner Mongolia is in full swing.
The team this year comprises three of us from Los Angeles, and four from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. We will also have a few geolgists joining us from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Earth Sciences research division.
The tentative schedule is to depart for Xilinhot on Friday, August 5. Some of the sites we will visit include the earl-middle Miocene Aoerban area, the middle Miocene Tunggur Formation, and the late Miocene Baogeda Ula Formation.
The stuffy and warm air in Beijing urges us to again migrate northward onto the Mongolian Plateau where the skies are blue and the grasses are green.