The Korea-Mongolia International Dinosaur Project has been collecting fossils from the Gobi Desert for the past several summers, and some of the specimens are housed in the lab in Hwaseong. My visit to Korea is funded through an NSERC Foreign Study Supplement, which is kind of like a study abroad for scientists. The purpose of my visit here is to help prepare a large ankylosaur skeleton, and to get experience working in a different culture and research environment.
This is just one of at least three large field jackets for this specimen – I definitely won’t complete the entire skeleton during this visit, but I hope to make a significant dent in it. (Well, not literally.) Here’s what it looked like when we opened it up – mostly a lot of rock rubble which I have spent the last two days picking through and throwing away, once I’m sure there’s no bone in it. There have been lots of loose fragments of ribs and vertebral processes, and part of what I think is the ilium is showing on one side. The rock is a buff sandstone that is very loosely consolidated in most places, so I think I should be able to make good progress with the airscribe when I get past the rubble.
A nice surprise was a loose block in the rubble that had this dorsal vertebra partly showing. This took about 4 hours to clean up. Separation between the rock and bone is pretty good, and most of the rock just kind of pops off. The vertebra had obviously undergone some erosion prior to burial based on the broken surfaces that were completely enclosed by matrix (indicating that this was not damage caused since being recently exposed). Gobi bones have very different colours compared to the Alberta bones I’m accustomed to – where Dinosaur Park bones are a nice rich brown, and Edmonton and Grande Prairie bones are grey and black, Gobi bones are white, yellow, red and purple.