15+ Interesting Facts About the Gobi Desert

  1. The Gobi is a cold desert in southern Mongolia and northern China. Its name derives from a Mongolian term meaning “waterless place.”
  2. The Gobi is the world’s 5th largest desert and the 2nd largest in Asia after the Arabian Desert. Another large desert, the Taklamakan Desert, is located to its west.
  3. Gobi Desert contains five eco-regions based on their distinct physical features and climate. These include Gaxun, Junggar, Trans-Altai, Alxa Plateau, and the Eastern Gobi.
  4. The Gobi Desert lies between several mountain ranges: Altai Mountains, Khangai Mountains, Tian Shan, Kunlun Mountains, and Altun Mountains. These mountain ranges play a vital role by creating a rain shadow effect over the Gobi.
  5. Researchers discovered stone tools from the Middle Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) between 200,000 and 40,000 years ago in 2016. They also found 40,000-year-old jasper artifacts. This area in the southern Gobi Desert once had lakes and wildlife. (Source
    Prehistoric stone tools
    Scientists have discovered ancient stone tools from the Gobi 

  6. The Gobi Desert in Mongolia is the world’s largest dinosaur fossil reservoir. It contains more than 80 genera of dinosaurs in over 60 fossil sites. The fossils of dinosaurs and other vertebrates prove that the desert had freshwater rivers and lakes between 120 and 70 million years ago. (Source)
  7. In 1922, paleontologists discovered the first known dinosaur eggs and skull of the Protoceratops (a parrot-beaked and shield-headed dinosaur). This place also contained fossils of 80-million-year-old dinosaurs, ancient mammals, and other vertebrates. (Source)
  8. The area of the Gobi increases by nearly 2,250 miles annually, making it the fastest-growing desert on Earth. China initiated a project (Great Green Wall) in 1978 to construct a 2,800-mile wall of trees to slow this progress. The country has planted the world’s largest artificial forest around this desert, with over 66 billion trees. However, it remained unsuccessful in controlling desertification. (Source)
  9. More than 90% of the Gobi Desert consists of rocky terrain, while only a small portion is sandy. However, the desert contains some of the world’s highest dunes, reaching 300 meters high.
  10. The average temperature in the Gobi Desert can reach -40 C in winter (January) and 45 C in summer (July). The annual precipitation ranges from less than 50 mm (2 inches) in the west to more than 200 mm (8 inches) in the northeast.
  11. The population density of the Gobi Desert is nearly one person per sq. km. These include people from Mongol and Han Chinese ethnicities. Many Mongols are nomadic and depend on livestock, while agriculture is a major economic activity in Inner Mongolia (China) due to underground water. The places of residence for both these ethnicities are also different.
  12. Plant life in the Gobi is sparse and generally contains shrubs and herbs. Animals in this desert include large mammals (wild camels, antelopes, gazelles, brown bears, etc.), rodents (marmots and gophers), and various snake species.
  13. Some parts of the Gobi Desert receive snowfall in winter. These unusual sights attract several tourists annually. (Source)
  14. Gobi Desert contains large reserves of coal, gold, silver, and copper. According to estimates, these minerals are valued between $1 trillion and $3 trillion and can last about 150 years. (Source)
  15. Yellow Dust, seasonal sandstorms, originates from the Gobi Desert during the spring and reaches as far as Korea and Japan. People usually avoid going outside during these storms due to an unhealthy atmosphere. The frequency of these storms has increased since the 1960s due to lower precipitation and warming of the desert. (Source)
  16. Mogao Caves in the Chinese province of Gansu is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Gobi Desert. It contains Buddhist cave temples from the 4th to the 10th century. The arid air of the desert played a significant role in preserving these temples.

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