Bird news update from England

This video says about itself:

Two different Richard’s Pipits (Anthus richardi), probably a pair, plus breeding habitat (foreground) near Zerleg, Khovsgol Aimag, Mongolia, July 2009.

From Peter Allard in England on Twitter:

Breydon Water early morn, 2 Richard’s Pipits along south wall near the lone bush, 2 Rough-leg[ged buzzard]s and a Spotted Red[shank]. Sunny, but very cold.

Mongolian emperors and Chinese art history

This video says about itself:

Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, reading with text

9 February 2013

Kubla Khan (pron.: /ˌkʊblə ˈkɑːn/) is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, completed in 1797 and published in 1816. According to Coleridge‘s Preface to Kubla Khan, the poem was composed one night after he experienced an opium influenced dream after reading a work describing Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China Kublai Khan. Upon waking, he set about writing lines of poetry that came to him from the dream until he was interrupted by a person from Porlock. The poem could not be completed according to its original 200–300 line plan as the interruption caused him to forget the lines. He left it unpublished and kept it for private readings for his friends until 1816 when, on the prompting by George Gordon Byron, it was published.

Some of Coleridge’s contemporaries denounced the poem and questioned his story about its origin. It was not until years later that critics began to openly admire the poem. Most modern critics now view Kubla Khan as one of Coleridge’s three great poems, with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. The poem is considered one of the most famous examples of Romanticism in English poetry. A copy of the manuscript is a permanent exhibit at the British Museum in London.

Apart from Coleridge’s poetic imagination, and descriptions by Marco Polo, there is more to say about Khubilai Khan and other Mongolian rulers of medieval China.

From the International Institute for Asian Studies in the Netherlands:

Khubilai Khan’s legacy: Inner Asian Influence on Chinese art

Date & time

19 February 2015, 14.30 – 16.30 hrs


Auditorium, Rijksmuseum
Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam

The programme

14.30 – 15.00 Reception with coffee & tea in the foyer at the Auditorium
15.00 – 15.10 Welcome & Introduction
15.10 – 16.00 Lecture by Professor Morris Rossabi
16.00 – 16.30 Q&A

The lecture

This slide-illustrated presentation challenges the conventional wisdom that portrays the thirteenth-century Mongolians as merely destroyers, killers, rapists, and plunderers. Although the lecture does not minimize the massacres and destruction wrought by the Mongolians, it also reveals their contributions to the arts and culture in China. Khubilai Khan, in particular, supported several of the most prominent Chinese painters, recruited Muslim weavers to add new motifs in Chinese textiles, appointed Mongolians to supervise the spectacular porcelain industry, and commissioned Tibetan and Nepalese painters and artisans to produce portraits of the Imperial family and to construct remarkable buildings in Dadu (or Beijing). Marco Polo, whose book introduced Khubilai to the West, was himself dazzled by the extraordinary art and culture he encountered in Mongol-ruled China.

To be sure, the Mongolians were not the artists and craftsmen, but they acted as sponsors, patrons, and consumers of the arts, thereby performing an invaluable service. Women, especially Khubilai’s wife and great granddaughter, were avid supporters of Chinese art.

The speaker

Morris Rossabi is a historian of China and Inner Asia who conducted his initial research on traditional Chinese foreign relations and on the peoples along China’s borders. He wrote a biography of Khubilai Khan, which has been translated in many languages, including Korean and Russian, and helped to organize exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. He was commissioned to write three chapters for the Cambridge History of China. After serving as a Consultant for the Soros Foundation, he wrote the book Modern Mongolia. The author of numerous articles and speeches, he travels repeatedly to Central Asia and Mongolia, where he teaches courses on Mongolian and East Asian history.


Entrance and registration are free of charge. Please register via:


For enquiries about the lecture, please contact Ms Heleen van der Minne:

Weird dinosaur discovery in Mongolia

This video says about itself:

22 October 2014

This computer animation shows Deinocheirus mirificus walking. Deinocheirus had unusually large forearms and several features that seem cobbled together from a variety of other dinosaurs.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Fossils reveal very awkward dinosaur once roamed the Earth

Christopher Hooton

Thursday 23 October 2014

Palaeontologists in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert have discovered new fossils that allow them to create a picture of what one of the most unusually-shaped dinosaurs looked like.

Deinocheirus mirificus, which means “unusual horrible hand” in Latin, was a bipedal dinosaur with a hump-back and a big belly that stood almost as tall as the Tyrannosaurus rex.

The fossils were described in a study in the journal Nature, with vertebrate palaeontologist Thomas Holtz, Jr commenting: “This is definitely an unusual animal.

“It had more of a ‘beer belly’ than your typical ornithomimosaur.”

Palaeontologists recovered fossils from three individuals from the species in the Gobi Desert, and were able to combine them with some previously stolen by poachers to create a 95% complete skeleton of the dinosaur.

Its unusual combination of features has scientists puzzled.

“This creature wasn’t built for speed,” said Stephen Brusatte a palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh. “That’s pretty obvious.”

Deinocheirus had wide hips and large toes, which made for an awkward gait as seen in the animation above.

Stolen Mongolian dinosaur’s head recovered, scientifically important

This video is called Finding gastralia of Deinocheirus – The Land of Dinosaurs, #16, 데이노케이루스 늑골 발견.

From New Scientist:

18:34 12 May 2014 by Jeff Hecht

Palaeontologists have recovered the stolen head and feet of one of the world’s weirdest dinosaurs. The fossils were somehow smuggled out of Mongolia, but have now been returned. They reveal that Deinocheirus, already known for its massive arms and the hump on its back, had a peculiar skull that looked like a cross between an ostrich and a duck.

In 1965, the first remains of Deinocheirus were found in the Gobi desert by Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska, now at the Institute of Paleobiology in Warsaw, Poland. All she found was a pair of 2.4-metre arms with fearsome claws.

These arms were unlike any seen before, and earned the fossil its name, which means “terrible hands”. Kielan-Jaworowska realised the bones belonged to a two-legged theropod, the family that includes Tyrannosaurus rex and birds.

Decades of searching for the rest of the bizarre beast yielded nothing until 2006, when the Korea-Mongolia International Dinosaur Project found a 70-million-year-old skeleton in the Gobi desert. Another followed in 2009. Between them they contained most of the major bones, except the head and feet.

Last year the researchers described Deinocheirus as an ornithomimosaur, or “ostrich dinosaur“, a group that includes the Gallimimus featured in Jurassic Park. But at 12 metres long, it was similar in size to T. rex, far larger than any other ornithomimosaur, and had a camel-like hump or sail on its back. However, without the head and feet they were missing key information, including what it ate – although gizzard stones in its stomach hint that it ate plants.

Fossil smugglers

Meanwhile François Escuillié, director of fossil dealership Eldonia in Gannat, France, spotted a strange skull and associated feet in a private European collection. In 2011, he asked Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels to take a look. Suspecting the bones might be the missing pieces of Deinocheirus, the two checked with the Korean-Mongolian team and found that the skull fit perfectly with the body found in 2006.

It remains unknown how the fossils were smuggled out of Mongolia and made their way to Europe. The collector has not been identified.

Escuillié eventually acquired the fossil and donated it to the Royal Belgian Institute. Then, on 1 May, he and Godefroit presented it to the Mongolian government. The bones will be deposited at the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs in Ulaanbaatar, along with the rest of the Deinocheirus skeleton, and a Tarbosaurus that was also previously stolen.

The skull shows Deinocheirus was even weirder than palaeontologists had thought. “It looked to me like the product of a secret love affair between a hadrosaur and Gallimimus,” says Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland in College Park. In overall body shape, Deinocheirus was similar to ornithomimosaurs like Gallimimus. The hadrosaur link comes from its snout.

Hadrosaurs are known as “duck-billed dinosaurs” because their snouts were long and flattened. Deinocheirus‘s mouth has a similar duck-billed shape.

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Finding fossils in Mongolia

From the American Museum of Natural History in the USA, about this video:

Last summer, a team led by the Museum’s Provost of Science Michael Novacek and Paleontology Division Chair Mark Norell headed to the Gobi for the joint American Museum of Natural History/Mongolian Academy of Sciences expedition. The group included Aki Watanabe, one of Mark Norell’s students at the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School, who was recently chosen as a beta-tester for Google Glass and who recorded video on Glass throughout the trip.

In this video, Watanabe takes us with him as he prospects for fossils in the Gobi Desert to collect and bring back to the Museum. Along the way, he shows the tools that he uses to find fossils, and how you can tell what is real fossil and what isn’t.

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Deinocheirus dinosaur discoveries in Mongolia

This South Korean TV video is called Finding gastralia of Deinocheirus – The Land of Dinosaurs, #16.

From New Scientist:

Is it a sloth? Is it a camel? No, it’s a dinosaur

16:49 18 November 2013 by Jeff Hecht

A hug with Deinocheirus would have been a memorable experience. Its 2.4-metre-long arms and 20-centimetre claws were all that was unearthed of this dinosaur from Mongolia‘s Gobi desert in 1965. Recent fossil finds are now filling in our image of what the dino-beast, which lived 70 million years ago, might have looked like.

Two skeletons, also from the Gobi desert, show Deinocheirus was an ornithomimosaur – a group mostly composed of small and nimble ostrich-like dinosaurs.

But this was no mini-dino. “The animal is as big as Tarbosaurus,” says Philip Currie of the University of Alberta in Canada, referring to a massive tyrannosaurid that is likely to have coexisted with Deinocheirus.

Currie was part of the team that excavated the skeletons. They show that the beast was 11 to 12 metres long and a cousin of T. rex with enormous spines on its lower back and tail that may have formed part of a huge sail or hump, making it look like a strange bipedal camel. At the other end, Deinocheirus had a long, ostrich-like neck that reached high into the trees – higher even than the sauropods did.

Armed and dangerous?

Sadly, poachers stole the skull, hands and feet of the skeletons, so we still don’t know what the beast’s head looked like. But Curries says it probably ate plants and swallowed rocks to help digestion – more than 1000 stomach stones, or gastroliths, were found with the skeletons.

And those enormous arms and impressive claws? You could be forgiven for thinking they were fearsome weapons, but their real purpose was probably a little more tame. “Deinocheirus claws were not for hooking into flesh,” says Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland in College Park. They were too blunt for that. Rather, the huge limbs remind Holtz of giant ground sloths, meaning the claws might have been for digging or grabbing onto trees.

Currie agrees. The proportions of the limbs suggest Deinocheirus was slow-moving, he says, and the creature may have used its long arms to pull down high branches to feed on.

So now you know. Deinocheirus had the curved hump of a camel, long neck of an ostrich, huge but blunt claws of giant ground sloth – and a monstrous hug.

Yuong-Nam Lee of the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources presented the latest finds on 1 November at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting in Los Angeles.