The Gobi Desert is a large desert or brushland region in East Asia.
The Gobi Desert is the source of many important fossils finds, including the first dinosaur eggs, twenty-six of which, averaging 9 inches (23 cm) in length, were uncovered in 1923.
Archeologists and paleontologists have done excavations in the Nemegt Basin in the northwestern part of the Gobi Desert (in Mongolia), which is noted for its fossil treasures, including early mammals, dinosaur eggs, and prehistoric stone implements, some 100,000 years old.
Despite the harsh conditions, these deserts and the surrounding regions sustain many animals, including black-tailed gazelles, marbled polecats, wild Bactrian camels, Mongolian wild ass and sandplovers. They are occasionally visited by snow leopards, Gobi bears, and wolves. Lizards are especially well-adapted to the climate of the Gobi Desert, with approximately 30 species distributed across its southern Mongolian border. The most common vegetation in the Gobi desert are shrubs adapted to drought. These shrubs included gray sparrow's saltwort (Salsola passerina), gray sagebrush, and low grasses such as needle grass and bridlegrass. Due to livestock grazing, the amount of shrubs in the desert has decreased. Several large nature reserves have been established in the Gobi, including Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Great Gobi A and Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area.
The area is vulnerable to trampling by livestock and off-road vehicles (effects from human intervention are greater in the eastern Gobi Desert, where rainfall is heavier and may sustain livestock). In Mongolia, grasslands have been degraded by goats, which are raised by nomadic herders as source of cashmere wool.
Large copper deposits are being mined by Rio Tinto Group. The mine was and remains controversial. There was significant opposition in Mongolia's parliament to the terms under which the mine will proceed, and some are calling for the terms to be renegotiated. Specifically, the contention revolves primarily around the question of whether negotiations were fair (Rio Tinto is far better resourced) and whether Rio Tinto will pay adequate taxes on the revenues it derives from the mine (an agreement was reached whereby the operation will be exempt from windfall tax).