Photo by: Bolortsetseg Minjin

Bolortsetseg Minjin

Breaking New Ground with Paleontologist from Mongolia

Meet Bolortsetseg (Bolor) Minjin, a Mongolian paleontologist and Explorers Club Fellow who played a pivotal role in stopping the sale of a fossil skeleton of the dinosaur Tyrannosaurus bataar, illegally collected from Mongolia. Bolor has also helped coordinate the return of over 30 other stolen dinosaurs to Mongolia.

May 20, 2021

Bolor's latest projects involve educational outreach in the Gobi Desert, a conservation park to combat illegal fossil poaching, and building a community-centered Dinosaur Museum at the Flaming Cliffs.

We caught up with The Explorers Club and Bolor to understand more about her path to paleontology - check out how she got here!

Tell us about yourself and your own history in exploration. What does it mean to you to be an explorer?

I am a paleontologist from Mongolia and the founder of the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs. Starting at a young age, I developed an interest in nature and wanted to explore my country; however, it only became a reality for me when I went to college to major in geology. I mostly worked in the Gobi Desert, which involved a lot of lonely walking and exploring the isolated areas to create geologic maps. Geology opened opportunities for me, including spots on paleontology expeditions with the American Museum of Natural History. From there I became fascinated with Mongolian fossils and went on to lead several expeditions on my own. For me exploration can happen even in your own backyard, you just have to pay attention to the nature and culture surrounding you. I most enjoy exploring with others where everyone can share their knowledge and interests. I also strongly believe that anyone can be an explorer.

Photo by: ISMD

ISMD

Could you give us a sense of some difficulties faced by Asian explorers, both historically and contemporarily?

Growing up I really didn’t learn about Asian explorers, but instead learned that the most exploration was done by Europeans. At the time I didn’t really question this, but obviously the history of Asian exploration is really incomplete. In terms of contemporary Asian explorers, there is still some notion that we do not fit into the picture of exploration. Biases still exist and it is challenging to overcome them.

Photo by: Bolortsetseg Minjin

Bolortsetseg Minjin

How do things look today, and could you give some examples of prominent Asian explorers working now?

Things are changing now, but slowly. If media outlets support and recognize more diverse explorers, I think change can greatly accelerate. There are a number of Asian explorers who are doing important work and inspiring the next generation. A few to mention here are Asha de Vos, Losang Rabgey, Darlene Lim, Krithi Karanth and Aparajita Datta.

Photo by: Thea Boodhoo

Thea Boodhoo

As a Fellow of The Explorers Club, we understand you are part of The Explorers Club 50 - could you tell us a bit more about this honor?

The Explorers Club

The Explorers Club, a non-profit world leader in exploration. Since its inception in 1904, members of the Club have traversed the earth, the seas, the skies, and even the moon, on expeditions of exploration.

This year the Explorer Club honored 50 explorers from around the world to recognize their accomplishments and the inspiration they bring to communities across the globe. I am honored to be part of this amazing group of honorees. Historically The Explorers Club supported and featured European explorers, which built upon the colonial model of exploration. I am happy to see that the Club is changing, is acknowledging their past, and is looking towards the future of exploration with an eye for diversity, equity, and inclusion. This honor can help me to connect with explorers from different continents and hopefully we can collaborate to create a better future.

You can learn more about Bolor's work at https://mongoliandinosaurs.org/ and http://www.flamingcliffs.org/

Next Up

Female Ocean Rower Attempts Record-Breaking Solo Crossing

Updated June 25, 2020 On June 17th, ocean rower Lia Ditton set off on a 20 ft. long rowboat, alone and unsupported, in an attempt to set the fastest ever time for a solo crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii.

Meet the First 6 Awardees of The Explorers Club Discovery Expedition Grant Program

Today, The Explorers Club, a non-profit world leader in exploration, and Discovery Channel announced the first class of awardees to receive approximately a quarter of a million dollars collectively to fund their expeditions. Let’s meet The Explorers Club Discovery Grant awardees.

Celebrating Black Explorers with J.R. Harris

Meet J. Robert Harris, a marketing consultant and social scientist by profession and a true explorer by heart. He's been exploring remote parts of the world for 50 years. Using personal anecdotes and archival images, J.R. draws from his own expedition experience and spotlights the struggles and triumphs of Black explorers throughout history and those who forge ahead today.

Jacob's Well Is a Dangerous Natural Wonder

This natural spring has claimed the lives of many divers.

You Can Visit The World's Oldest Library in Fez, Morocco

Check out rare books at the world's oldest continually operating library.

Is Bolivia's "Death Road" Still the World's Most Dangerous Road?

Adventure seekers travel from around the world to drive and cycle Bolivia's 43-mile "Death Road." Visit Discovery.com to learn what's so dangerous about it.

Adventure and Exploration in Israel’s Ancient Deserts

Israel is a country packed full of history and culture. Head out on an adventure to discover ancient ruins, crumbling monasteries, and lush oases.

This World-Famous Chicago Skyscraper Can Sway Up to 3 Feet in the Wind

Constructing this tower was a major feat of engineering.

There's a Secret Room Behind Mount Rushmore Meant for Future Civilizations

This hidden room within the mountain was designed for the future.