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Mongolian paleontologists with a dream come to Montana State University
Date:1/15/2008

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Jack Horner has flown to Mongolia the past three summers to search for dinosaur bones. Now three members of his field crew have joined him at Montana State University to start developing a new generation of Mongolian paleontologists.

Horner is Ameya Preserve curator of paleontology at MSU's Museum of the Rockies and Regents Professor of Paleontology in Montana.

"I had this dream that I wanted Mongolian paleontology to be developed better," said Bolortsetseg Minjin, a postdoctoral researcher. "I wanted Mongolian paleontologists to work on Mongolian species."

Mongolia already has paleontologists. Her father is one of them, Bolortsetseg said. But most Mongolian paleontologists are older than 50, and many were trained in Russia during the Communist years, she said. Now that Mongolia is open to the West, she'd like to see more young people study paleontology, especially vertebrate paleontology, and learn the latest technology and research methods from western scientists. She wants them to work in state-of-the-art laboratories in their own country.

"In terms of my generation, there are not many people, basically just me," Bolortsetseg said. "That's kind of scary."

She said she considers the Museum of the Rockies to be the top training facility for paleontologists in the United States, which is why she asked Horner if she could work with him. The two met four years ago during Horner's first field season in Mongolia. She also asked if Baasanjav Ugtbayar and Badamkhatan Zorigt could join them.

Horner agreed, and the three are now the only Mongolians studying paleontology in the United States, Bolortsetseg said. The Mongolian research and student projects are being funded by private donations. After the Mongolians finish at MSU, they plan to return home with the ability to find, excavate and study Mongolia's dinosaurs for themselves. Horner supports the idea.

"It's not about me," Horner s
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Contact: Evelyn Boswell
evelynb@montana.edu
406-994-5135
Montana State University
Source:Eurekalert

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