If other horses are the equivalent of feral dogs, then the Przewalski’s horse is a wolf. In its native Mongolia, where it goes by the name takhi, it is known as the father of horses. Mongolians regard the takhi as spiritual, holy animals, and for millennia they largely left them alone... The trouble all began in the late 19th century, when the Western world finally took note of the takhi. Nikolai Przewalski, a Polish-born explorer serving as a colonel in the Russian army, “discovered” the horses during an 1878 expedition to the Mongolian-Chinese frontier. Naturally, Przewalski named the horse after himself, and when he returned to the West, word quickly spread among zoos, adventurers, and curio collectors about the mysterious wild horses.
[Roy Chapman] Andrews is best remembered for the series of dramatic expeditions he led to the Gobi of Mongolia (shorter films: 1, 2) from 1922 to 1930. Andrews took a team of scientists into previously unexplored parts of the desert using some of the region’s first automobiles with extra supplies transported by camel caravan. Andrews – for whom adventure and narrow escapes from death were a staple of exploring – is said to have served as inspiration for the Hollywood character “Indiana Jones.” Andrews’s expeditions to the Gobi remain significant for, among other discoveries, their finds of the first nests of dinosaur eggs, new species of dinosaurs, and the fossils of early mammals that co-existed with dinosaurs. [more inside]
Photographs of an almost perfectly preserved 298 million year-old fossilized forest discovered under a coal mine in China [pdf] (In Wuda, Inner Mongolia). [more inside]
Chinese archeologists have mapped the layout of Shangdu (better known as Xanadu), after large scale excavations that included the use of GIS in remote sensing and aerial archeology. The capital, located in Inner Mongolia, was built in 1256 under the command of Kublai Khan, the first emperor of Yuan Dynasty, who was enthroned there four years later. It became a summer resort after the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) moved its capital to Ta-tu or Dadu (built by the same architect, located in present-day Beijing) in 1276, and was destroyed during a peasant war at the end of the dynasty. The regional government has submitted an application for World Cultural Heritage status for the site to UNESCO, currently under review. Xanadu has captured the imagination of the West ever since Marco Polo first extolled its beauties in his Books of the Marvels of the World, subsequently immortalized by Coleridge in a poem fuelled by opium fevered dreams. Other recently discovered Yuan Dynasty artifacts include a priceless porcelain vase as well as a sunken ship - part of an invading Mongol armada - off the coast of Japan.
9000 miles by ferry, train, bus, bicycle, horse, foot and car. In a bid to reduce his carbon footprint, Joseph Tame swapped 11 hours in a plane from Japan to England for a month-long adventure across Eurasia. Along the way he has a Chinese Imperial Guard hold a penguin, stays in a Mongolian Yurt, experiences a "road" trip or two, misses some trains, and befriends a chipmunk.
The Shanhai Cooperative Organization. [wiki] When Moscow and Beijing engineered the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) six years ago, I am not sure if they foresaw its emergence as an important actor in the international order. Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia, currently observers, are lobbying hard to get accepted into this club. The US request for membership was rejected two years ago.