Paula Froelich goes to Mongolia’s Flaming Cliffs to hunt for dinosaur bones.
Photo by Getty Images. Design by Lauren DeLuca for Yahoo Travel.
Deep in the Gobi Desert is an explorer’s dream: a real life dinosaur graveyard. Sixty million years ago, velociraptors and other dinosaurs roamed this part of the earth, which was then a grassy, leafy area. Now a stark desert, it is filled with their bones.
This site, Byanazag, otherwise known as the Flaming Cliffs, is especially famous because in the 1920s, American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews discovered dinosaur eggs there — proving dinosaurs were reptilian and didn’t have live births. Today, discoveries are still made every day.
The Flaming Cliffs of Mongolia are full of dinosaur bones.
Unlike sites in other parts of the world, in Mongolia you can still wander around unobstructed on these cliffs. What looks like stone may be bone, but you have to lick it to see.
My guide, Timur Yadamsuren from Intrepid Travel, elucidated: “You have to lick it — if your tongue sticks to it, it is bone. If it doesn’t, it is stone.” [Note: It is entirely possible Timur was messing with me and just wanted me to lick a bunch of stones, but some did stick and others didn’t so…]
However, if you do find dino bones (and, according to my sticky tongue, I did), it is illegal to remove them.
“You must take them to the museum or alert the government,” according to Timur.
An added bonus to this graveyard is the landscape, which, not unlike the Badlands in South Dakota, is made up of red and orange sandstone. So when the sun sets and the light strikes the cliffs, they look like they are on fire (hence the name, the Flaming Cliffs). It is a truly magical, mythical place and not one to be missed, especially for those of us who grew up dreaming of dinosaurs.
Thanks to Intrepid Travel for showing us such a good time in Mongolia!
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