Michael A. Firman’s
This page contains pictures and information about the people who participated in the expedition. The participants were:
- Beatrice "Trixie" Anders
- Y. Badral, Our Guide
- Chimedtseren "Chimedt", Resident Geologist/Paleontologist
- Michael Firman
- Edward Fox III
- Prof. Carlos Rene Delgado De Jesus, Guest Paleontologist from the state of Coahuila in Mexico
- Dr. James Kirkland, Paleontologist at DIS and our Expedition Leader
- John McLaughlin
- Albert Miniaci
- Richard Bruce Mortensen
- Marilyn Schweitzer
- John Thomas
- George Wasilczyk
- Michael Wasilczyk
- David Williams
Front Row: Jim, Badral, Carlos, Michael W., Michael F., Marilyn.
Dr. Barsbold had to be in London for a conference and was leaving that day, so he met early with Jim and Carlos while the rest of us roamed around the lab admiring the beautiful finds that they had collected.
Idea was our cook for the time we spent out in the field. He also served as some sort of navigator while we were traveling between dig sites on the bus. I was never quite sure how they found their way around out in the Gobi since, many times, there would be no roads or markers at all. Periodically the bus driver would call Idea up from the back of the bus for a consultation (in Mongolian) at which point we would change directions.
Chimedt accompanied us on our field trips and served as our advisor on all things related to fossil location and collection. He is a very knowledgeable individual with a wicked sense of humor. An example of this can be seen in the following anecdote (which needs a bit of setup): First recall that one of the most famous dinosaur fossils is the "Fighting Dinosaur" fossil that resides in the Museum in UB. It was found in the Tugrigiin Shiree and consists of a Protoceratops and a Velociraptor in a deadly embrace. The dinosaurs were apparently buried while fighting to their death. Now, at one point while we were in the Bayan Zag, a potential dig site was discovered and several people went out to begin to clear it. The people involved were: Trixie, John T., Bruce, Badral, Chimedt, Carlos, and myself. Trixie, John, and Carlos began to clear the sandstone away from some exposed bone while the rest of us were observing. Soon, what became apparent were two skulls, one lying on top of the other. From the teeth we determined that the skulls were herbivores, probably two Protoceratops. Bruce interjected a bit of humor by saying "Fighting dinosaurs eh? Fighting over a leaf." At this point everyone laughed except for Chimedt whose English is not quite good enough to have caught the reference. Chimedt asked Badral what the joke was, and Badral translated, at which point Chimedt laughed and responded with something in Mongolian. Badral began to laugh and reported that Chimedt had responded with "and the leaf was poisonous!".
At one point, when we were in the Bayan Zag, Al produced a box of cigars that he had carried with him all the way from Florida. This picture was taken late in the afternoon after everyone had come in from the field and washed off the dust (Carlos was one of the members that took advantage of Al's cigar collection).
John M. and Dave were two old friends that had lost touch with one another for quite a few years. They were re-united recently by their common interest in classic automobiles. John's interest in literature, and particuarly in stories of Mongolia's past, lead him to talk his friend (Dave) into traveling with him to this country. They continued their travels after the dig was over by touring the northern regions for an additional week.
Here is Michael with the hedgehog that came to vist us in the Ger the last night we were in camp (the night of the big sand storm). At this point the critter was chowing down on some leftover herring that we had had for dinner the night before. Chimedt laughed and commented that this was a unique experience for the animal since he probably never had fish before and would never have it again.
Badral was our guide and our translator. He was educated in Mongolia, Russia, and Europe, and speaks Mongolian, Russian, and English (very well). He also speaks Japanese (but claims that he does so very poorly). He was a wealth of information about Mongolia and was very patient with us unruly Americans.
To our knowledge Carlos is the first Paleontologist from Mexico to visit Mongolia. Carlos is one of the more energetic people I've met and, according to Jim, one of the best field paleontologists around. He is extremely knowledgeable and has an intuitive feel for the strata (he knows where the bones are!)
Carlos was called upon to check out the various sites people found while prospecting in the desert. It turned out to be the remains of a Protoceratops. Trixie and John T. discovered this site.
An ovoo is a pile of stones (and other items) sometimes topped with a piece of cloth or flag. There are ovoos all over Mongolia along the roadsides and in very remote areas also. They are a shaman shrine, the purpose of which is to ensure good luck to travelers. Travelers leave various items on and between the rocks that make up the ovoo. Things such as money, food, empty bottles, etc. are often left at ovoos. This ovoo was high up on a little mesa at Tugrigiin Shiree.
This is in the Tugrigiin Shiree. Marilyn found and eventually uncovered a small Protoceratops skeleton which turned out to be missing the skull. We noticed later that there were plaster fragments scattered around the area (including what looked like a whole bag of plaster that had gotten wet and solidified). We suspect someone jacketed up the skull of this specimen and shipped it off somewhere.
Here is Bruce with the first (Velociraptor) skeleton that we found in the Bayan Zag. This skeleton was jacketed up and eventually sent off to the Museum in UB.