TITLE: Dinosaurs Along the Silk Road
SPEAKER: James M. Clark
EVENT DATE: 06/24/2009
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 53 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
During the past seven years, James M. Clark has been part of a team that found the bones of small dinosaurs mired in mud, stacked one on top of another, in the northern part of Xinjiang, China, near the ancient Silk Road. Clark, who is the Ronald Weintraub Professor of Biology at George Washington University, says a spectacular bestiary of dinosaurs and their contemporaries lies buried in the Gobi Desert of China and Mongolia. The desert, according to Clark, has grudgingly yielded their bones to paleontological expeditions that can endure its rugged terrain, harsh sandstorms and flash floods.
In his lecture, Clark showed images of his work in the Gobi and discuss the discoveries made by his expeditions and by others. Many of the discoveries provide critical support for the hypothesis that birds evolved from dinosaurs, and he will discuss this controversial theory.
Speaker Biography: James M. Clark has spent the past 18 years searching the Gobi Desert for dinosaurs. In 1991, he helped organize the first American expedition to Mongolia with Michael Novacek and Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History. For the past seven years, his field work with Xu Xing focused on dinosaurs from the poorly known middle part of the Jurassic Period, in the far western reaches of the Gobi. Their expeditions to this area, in the northern part of Xinjiang, China, near the ancient Silk Road, revealed three sites at which small dinosaurs had become caught in mud. The dinosaurs in these "death pits" were the subject of a documentary by the National Geographic Channel and an article in NG Magazine. The discovery included the oldest tyrannosaur and a strange new, toothless dinosaur with an intriguing hand skeleton. Preserved elsewhere in the same rocks are remains of the oldest and most primitive horned dinosaur, a small running crocodilian relative, a new flying reptile (pterosaur) and a host of other new species.