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Dinosaurs of the Gobi Desert

                       In the Field with the Institute!



Dinosaur Expedition to the Gobi, Mongolia

May 22-June 4 (dates are now final)
Join legendary dinosaur paleontologist  Michael Ryan, Curator of vertebrate paleontology at CMNH, and CWRU’s Director of Evolutionary Biology, Patricia Princehouse for 2 weeks of dinosaur hunting in the Gobi Desert! A variety of cultural experiences enrich the journey, including desert nomads, monks and monasteries, traditional music and dance. Unparalleled stargazing, stunning landscapes, wildlife trekking in multiple eco-zones, rock art, and the last major territory where the primitive Takhi or Przewalski horses run free.

.To register, call Michelle Miller, Siegal Lifelong Learning Center, 216-368-8745
and/or email Patricia Princehouse, 


.This expedition to Mongolia focuses on the conceptual foundations of paleontology and specifics of the evolutionary history of the Nemegt Basin in the Gobi Desert, and offers a practical introduction to field work using Cretaceous period (~145-65 million years ago) sediments to train participants in field research methods. Participants analyze the literature on Cretaceous dinosaur paleobiology and apply this knowledge doing fieldwork in the Gobi while learning paleontological techniques. Also includes basic grounding in traditional and modern cultures of the Gobi and discussions of the intercultural skills needed to successfully carry out research in international settings. The course is led by vertebrate paleontologists from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and CWRU faculty.

STUDENTS:   $3500
Regular rate: $3800
Supplement for single accommodation: $650
CWRU college credit available for students of CWRU or other universities.
(Call Patricia for details: 440-478-5292.)
Fee includes all room, board, and transportation within Mongolia.
Participants are responsible for travel to and from Mongolia, books and materials, laptop or iPad, and incidentals.

Please consult us prior to finalizing purchase of your airline tickets to make sure no schedule details have changed. Additional nights in Ulaanbaatar prior to or after the expedition and additional customizing is possible just ask us and we’ll do our best to help you do exactly what you want!


(subject to change)

May 21  Ulaanbaatar

Arriving in the morning, you will be met at the airport in Ulaanbaatar by Dr. Ryan and Dr. Princehouse, and travel into the heart of Mongolia’s cosmopolitan capital to check into the four-star Ramada Ulaanbaatar City Center. In the afternoon you will participate in hands-on analysis of Gobi Desert dinosaur fossils at the Paleontology and Geology Department Laboratories, and enjoy a guest lecture by a member of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.


May 22  Ulaanbaatar
Hands-on analysis of Gobi Desert dinosaur fossils at the Paleontology and Geology Department Laboratory. Morning lecture by Dr. Princehouse on phylogenetic analysis and afternoon lecture by Dr. Ryan on dinosaur paleobiology. 




May 23
  Hongoryn Els Sand Dunes

You fly to the Gobi in search of dinosaurs. After landing at the airstrip in the town of Dalannzadgad, the expedition heads west across the South Gobi Desert to Hongoryn Els, Mongolia’s tallest dunes. Spend the night in a ger (yurt) camp. Evening discussion of the book On the Trail of Genghis Khan. 

May 24 Nemegt Valley
Survey for fossils in the Nemegt Valley, Dr. Ryan will instruct us in techniques relating to finding dinosaur fossils, especially the importance of search image. Spend the first of two nights at a basic ger camp west of the Nemegt Valley. Participants whose research concerns the Nemegt Valley present their material. Evening examination of fossils collected during the day.

May 25 Khermen Tsav
Day trip to the Khermen Tsav canyon surveying for fossils. Participants whose research concerns the Khermen Tsav canyon present their material. Evening examination of fossils collected during the day.

May 26  Nemegt Valley
Survey for fossils in a different area in the Nemegt Valley. Dr. Ryan will instruct us in techniques relating to collection of dinosaur fossils, including plaster jacketing. Participants whose research concerns additional localities in the Nemegt Valley present their powerpoints. Evening examination of fossils collected during the day. 




blue-silk-mongolia-mountain-passMay 27 Hongoryn Els Sand Dunes
Head back east to the Hongoryn Els Sand Dunes for a day of recreational activities, including climbing the mountains of sand and camel- or horseback riding,

May 28 Alag Teg and Tugrugiin Shiree
Continue east and explore Alag Teg, a locality rich in ankylosaurs, as well as Tugrugiin Shiree, a white sandstone formation most famous as the site of the 1971 discovery of the Fighting Dinosaurs, a velociraptor and protoceratops locked in mortal combat. Participants whose research concerns Alag Teg and Tugrugiin Shiree present their material. Evening examination of fossils collected during the day.

May 29 Flaming Cliffs
Explore the Gobi’s most legendary paleontological site: the Flaming Cliffs. After stumbling upon the red sandstone cliffs in September 1922, the explorers of the American Museum of Natural History’s Central Asiatic Expeditions, led by Roy Chapman Andrews, returned the next year and made the world’s first discovery of a nest of dinosaur eggs. Protoceratops fossils are still abundant here and participants will learn techniques of excavation and preservation of fossils for transfer back to the U.S.

May 30  Yolyn Am Canyon

Explore the desert oasis of Yolyn Am Canyon, whose high walls and the stream at the canyon’s base provide a sanctuary for life in the forbidding desert landscape, and keeps an ice sheet frozen well into summer. We’ll visit the ger of a local nomadic family.




May 31  Del Uul Petroglyphs
We drive northeast out of the South Gobi, entering the gravely expanse of the Middle Gobi and reaching the painted limestone cliff of Tsagaan Suvarga. We will study the Bronze Age petroglyphs at Del Uul.






794px-laudakia_stoliczkana_eej_khairkhan_natural_monument_tsogt_sum_govi-altai_province_north_gobi_desert_mongolia_7-public-domainJune 1  Baga Gazryn Chuluu
The expedition continues north to Baga Gazryn Chuluu at the edge of the Middle Gobi, where dramatic rock formations shelter ancient grave sites. Evening discussion of The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire.

June 2  Ulaanbaatar
Students visit Gandantegchenlin Monastery, the center of Mongolian Buddhism, and learn about folk music and dance with the Tumen Ekh Ensemble, and enjoy a final discussion over a farewell dinner of traditional dishes.

June 3  Departure from Ulaanbaatar
Return to the Ulaanbaatar airport for departure



(most are available in both print and electronic form):
Sourcebook: A compilation of peer-reviewed scientific articles from the primary literature
Cope, Tim. On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads. Bloomsbury USA (2013)
Goldstein, Melvyn C., and Cynthia M. Beall The Changing World of Mongolia’s Nomads University of California Press (1994) (and online at
Novacek, Michael. Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs. Anchor Books (1996)



blue-silk-horses-eagles-mongoliaNovacek, Michael. Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Other Fossils from Montana to Mongolia. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2002)
Powell, James Lawrence and Warren Farrell. Night Comes to the Cretaceous: Dinosaur Extinction and the Transformation of Modern Geology. Amazon Digital. (2016)
Weatherford, Jack The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire. Broadway Books. (2011)




To register, call Michelle Miller, Siegal Lifelong Learning Center, 216-368-8745

and/or email Patricia Princehouse

Page last modified: March 14, 2017