Dinosaurs were first discovered in Mongolia in the early 20th Century by expeditions led by Roy Chapman Andrews of the American Museum of Natural History. This set off a great rush to find Asian dinosaurs, and multiple international expeditions discovered a treasure-trove of new dinosaur sites. Despite the long history of fossil collecting in Mongolia, much of the Mongolian public, including children, are largely unaware of these expeditions and their discoveries.
Due to the lack of awareness of these discoveries, the prevalence of illegal fossil poaching rose with the support and funding of international collectors. The trade in Mongolian fossils culminated with Heritage Auction’s house in NYC attempting to sell a stolen skeleton of Tyrannosaurus bataar in 2012, with a starting bid of $850,000.
In her talk, Dr. Bolortsetseg Minjin, Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs, discusses the rise of fossil poaching in Mongolia, the laws that protect these fossils, and evidence for a vast network of fossil smugglers and profiteers. She will detail efforts to halt fossil poaching, educate the public about palaeontology, and bring economic benefit to Mongolia through fossil conservation.