Field work update

13 May 2008
Our recent field work in the Turpan Basin in NW China was a full success. Our comparably small, but highly motivated team was composed of five “diggers” and four students from Bonn University who did their “Diplom” (M.Sc.) mapping project in the area. We were looking for vertebrate fossils in Jurassic sediments near Shanshan and found a lot of material in several new localities – actually, we found a lot more than we could excavate within the limited time of four weeks!

On April 10, we launched a press conference in Shanshan in order to announce the discovery of the first dinosaur tracksite in northwestern China (see for instance here for the news coverage of the find; the scientific description – we discovered this site in September 2007 – can soon be downloaded from my publication list). Among our finds are some new sauropod and theropod dinosaur localities with articulated material, and several well-preserved turtle shells from the Middle and the Upper Jurassic. One locality, named “Turtle’s Corner” is literally packed with turtle shells in an area of at least several square meters: a true Jurassic turtle taphocoenosis which definitely deserves further excavation!

Additionally, we screen-washed several tons of sediment rich in micro-vertebrate bones and teeth and sent the remaining concentrate to Germany, where it will be picked under the microscope. By the way, in the small amount of sediment we have screen-washed last year, we have already discovered a mammal tooth. It is not only one of the rare mammal teeth from the Middle Jurassic, but also the first evidence of Mesozoic mammals from the Turpan Basin.

Since my research project will be finished this August, the further status of our field work in China is pending at this time. However, applications of continuing research in the area are already in preparation.