The "Mecca" of the Fossil World
The Gobi Desert is a large desert area in Northern China and Southern Mongolia. The word Gobi means 'very large and dry' in Mongolian, hence the name. Unlike the sandy Sahara, the Gobi Desert is comprised mainly of barren expanses of gravel plains and rocky outcrops. Summer sees the temperature rise up to 40°C (104°F), but it can also drop to -40°C (-40°F) in winter.
Legend tells that the Gobi Desert was created when a Mongolian chief, skilled in the art of black magic, was forced to leave town with the Chinese army in hot pursuit. As he fled, he cast a spell and the land shriveled up behind him, leaving nothing for the Chinese but a vast, arid desert.
The Gobi occupies about 1,300,000 sq. km. of land area and is the largest desert of Asia. The Nemegt Basin in the northwestern part of the Gobi Desert is famous for its dinosaur fossil treasures and is known to be a veritable dinosaur graveyard.
It is also home to some of the most exciting paleontological finds of the century. The desert sustains many animals, including the Gobi bear, ibex, black-tailed gazelle, snow leopard, gobi wolf, meu, golden eagle, wild camel, jerboa, takhi and Asiatic wild ass.