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Dr. Rinchen Barsbold (Mongolian: Ринченгийн Барсболд, Rinchyengiin Barsbold, born December 21, 1935 in Ulaanbaatar) is a Mongolian paleontologist and geologist. He works with the Institute of Geology, at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. He is recognized around the world as a leader in vertebrate paleontology and Mesozoic stratigraphy.
Barsbold has been instrumental in the discovery and recovery of one of the largest dinosaur collections in the world. His work has projected Mongolian paleontology into world prominence and helped to form a more modern understanding of the later stages of dinosaur evolution in Eurasia.
Barsbold has had considerable influence on dinosaur paleontology in the Communist world. Barsbold's scientific work has made him a leading authority on theropods of the Gobi Desert, starting with his doctoral dissertation on these dinosaurs. As early as 1983, he noted that in different lineages of theropods, many features previously only known from birds had evolved in various combinations (Barsbold 1983). He postulated that as a result of this "ornithization", one or several lineages of theropods that happened to acquire the proper combination of such traits went on to evolve into actual birds.
Since the identification of a number of feathered dinosaurs beginning in the late 1990s, Barsbold's ideas are more fully appreciated. When he initially published his conclusions - a list of generally rather obscure anatomical features - in 1983, there was little exchange between the Mongolian scientific community and that of Western countries. Moreover, Barsbold's early papers were usually published in Russian, in which few Western scientists are fluent. In addition, Evgeny Kurochkin - probably the leading specialist on bird paleontology in the then-Communist world - was critical of the theropod-bird link, working with and teaching mostly Cenozoic bird paleontology. Therefore, Barsbold's theories initially had more impact among "dinosaur" paleontologists in Mongolia, the USSR, and allied countries.