Mongolian Institute of Paleontology & Geology and The Explorers Club Hong Kong Pioneer New Technology for Exploration, Announce Significant Findings, Potentially New Species

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INFINITI HORIZON BASE CAMP, Gobi Desert, Mongolia, July 11, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Institute of Paleontology and Geology of Mongolian Academy of Sciences (IPG) and The Explorers Club Hong Kong Chapter, supported by INFINITI Motor Company, announced a breakthrough in paleontological methodology on June 29. Achieved through advanced mapping technology, the collaborative group discovered many significant findings after a 20-day expedition in the Gobi Desert that revisited the route of Roy Chapman Andrews' groundbreaking explorations nearly 100 years ago.

The 35-person multidisciplinary team of paleontologists, geologists, archaeologists, scientists and The Explorers Club members found possible evidence of three new dinosaur species, more than 250 new fossil locations, five entirely new areas previously not known to contain fossils, and hundreds of fossilized bones, including those of mammals, which were not previously known to have existed in the area. The paleontologists will analyze the fossils they took back to Ulaanbaatar to validate the findings and will explore the newly discovered sites over the next several years, if not decades.

Paleontologists were able to analyze an enormous amount of data collected from satellite and drone imagery to pinpoint high probability locations for fossilization, based on geological and sedimentary markers. The team could then travel quickly to the sites in a fleet of INFINITI SUVs to prospect for fossils. The combination of satellite and drone imaging, together with a team of paleontologists — all working together — has never be done before. This represents a new, more efficient method of discovering dinosaur fossils.

"Geological and paleontological maps will be re-written to account for these new findings and discoveries," said Michael Barth, Founder and Chairman, The Explorers Club Hong Kong Chapter, and expedition organizer. "New species and mammals were found, we pioneered new means to pinpoint locations and uncovered fossils from three unknown species. The quality and historical significance of the findings far exceeded our expectations. We found hundreds of fossils and the first Velociraptor ancestor fossil at a new site in the Oosh mountain range, which is the first evidence of a meat-eating dinosaur to be found in this area. We found the ancestor of the great horned rhino, which has never been seen before in this region. We also found an exceedingly rare Theropod dinosaur egg and massive vertebrae, ribs, skull fragments and the tail section from a Tarbosaurus, the Mongolian cousin of the T.rex. The Hong Kong Chapter of The Explorers Club partnering with INFINITI was a good match, as we share a passion for exploration and using technology to push the boundaries of seeking new knowledge. Roy Chapman Andrews was the first explorer to use motorized vehicles to increase the amount of ground he and his team could cover. He would be proud of what we accomplished and thrilled that his legacy continues to inspire meaningful discoveries."

"The first site we explored was the same location Roy Chapman Andrews surveyed in 1922, in the Oosh Mountain region in the Omnogovi territory of the Gobi Desert," said Dr. Tsogtbaatar Khishigjav, Director of the IPG, and paleontology leader of the expedition. "The expedition team found several important fossils in every region of the Gobi, including bones of the Theropod dinosaur from the Cretaceous era 70 to 80 million years ago. For the first time ever, we discovered a primitive horned dinosaur in Bugyn Tsav — this is very rare, never seen before here. We will now analyze the initial findings in our lab."

"Up to now, paleontologists have done a lot of prospecting by walking around in a landscape to interpret its geological properties," said Dr. Scott Nowicki, lead R&D scientist at Quantum Spatial, who compiled the satellite and drone-mapping technology. Dr. Nowicki has worked on several Mars explorations with NASA. "We were looking for sandstones, mudstones and shales that were deposited during the Cretaceous era, using technology that allows us to map the presence of different compositional layers and different physical materials that are indicative of the presence of fossils. With a selection of drones, we flew a multispectral camera, a thermal camera and invisible cameras over four sites and collected that data over hundreds of kilometers. We then compared that to satellite data, correlating the observations made on the surface with geological properties that we had not yet visited. We found new sites similar to one known to contain fossils. The three-dimensional maps we created, down to the centimeter level, will aid in the exploration of the Gobi for years to come."

"We found a mature Tarbosaurus tooth, which is a particularly significant find," said Chinzorig Tsogtbaatar, a researcher with IPG. "Signs indicate this is the largest Tarbosaurus ever found in Mongolia. It had a tooth longer than 10 centimeters. The largest ever found in the world was 15 centimeters. The Tarbosaurus bataar adult weighed six tons, was eight meters long and five meters high, making this possibly the largest carnivorous dinosaur found in the southern region of Mongolia. Geo-mapping led the team to a quarry, and along the way we found the tooth partially above ground due to wind storms and soil erosion."

The expedition, which used the all-new INFINITI QX50 luxury mid-size crossover, as well as the larger QX60 and QX80 SUVs, endured a heavy sandstorm that blew away two support tents, 110-degree weather, scorpions, lethal spiders and a host of other challenges moving a large caravan across the Gobi's forbidden terrain.

Andrews' expedition was one of the first to carry the Expedition Flag for The Explorers Club, one of only 202 flags that the club loans out to expeditions that hold the promise of making new scientific discoveries. Flags have since been carried to the summit of Mt. Everest, to the deepest point of the ocean, the Challenger Deep in the Marianna trench and to the surface of the moon. Following in these illustrious footsteps, this expedition carried The Explorers Club flag #179 on its 36th expedition. It has been to the North Pole, the top of Mount Everest, the Amazon and now the Gobi Desert.

"The Explorers Club is known for its famous firsts: first to the North Pole, the South Pole, the top of Everest, the bottom of the ocean, and first to the moon," said Will Roseman, Executive Director of The Explorers Club. "We are very excited to partner with INFINITI, which also has many famous firsts, including the world's first production variable compression ratio engine in its all-new QX50. We share a passion for discovery and for scientific advancement."

Key finds:

Link to info about the Tarbosaurus 

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Globe Newswire: 17:15 GMT Wednesday 11th July 2018

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