Otto Zdansky’s classic 1923 paper “Fundorte der Hipparion-Fauna um Pao-Te-Hsien in NW-Shansi” (Bulletin of the Geological Survey, China, Volume 5, pp. 69-82) remains the only detailed description of the localities that have delivered much of the finest Chinese mammalian fossil material stored in museums in and outside China. In particular, the majority of the Chinese large-mammal fossils in the Lagrelius Collection in the Museum of Evolution in Uppsala, Sweden, and in the Frick Collection in the American Museum in New York, were collected in the Dragon Bone Mines of Jijiagou and adjacent gullies in Baode County, Shanxi Province. The mines were mapped and described by Zdansky during a prolonged stay in the area, in order to supervise the collecting and shipping of material destined for Uppsala.
The late Neogene Red Clay deposits (previously also known as Hipparion Clay) are widespread in north China covering an area similar to the overlying Pleistocene loess deposits. In recent years, research has demonstrated an eolian origin for the Red Clay, as for the overlying Pleistocene and Holocene loess.
During a field season in the Baode area in September 2004, we decided to translate Zdansky’s German text for the benefit of team members unfamiliar with that language. It subsequently occurred to us that we ought to make the translation available to the scientific community at large, in the admirable spirit of Will Downs, whose many translations of Chinese publications into English are such a rare treasure for all international collaborations involving Cenozoic vertebrate fossils from China. We are happy to dedicate our translation to the sweet remembrance of our late friend and colleague “Mr. Dong” (Dong Weilin was Will’s Chinese name.).
It should be emphasized that this translation is the work of happy amateurs, and although we have taken reasonable precautions to avoid mistakes, inaccuracies may well remain. The use of italics follows the original. We have used the established term “Hipparion Clay,” although the correct translation of Zdansky’s term “Lehm” would be loam, a better match for the lithology in question. Zdansky repeatedly used variants of the expression “die Lagerung is schwebend.” This seems at first to suggest that he thought that the stratification was weak or vague (“floating”), but apparently “schwebend” in this context is actually an old miner’s term meaning simply horizontal. The transcription of place names given by Zdansky is unchanged, with the modern pinyin equivalent given in brackets at the name’s first occurrence in the text. The lack of citations and references is genuine.
Zdansky supplied a wonderfully detailed map of Baode County area (Pao Te Hsien), which we designate as our Figure 1. The labelling of illustrations and tables originally used by Zdansky was revised for convenience and compatibility with online viewing. In the original, there were four text drawings labelled as figures. In addition, there were five plates or “tables” at the end of the article, labelled with Roman numerals, of which tables I and II both comprised two photographs, then called Figure 1 and Figure 2, respectively. Tables III and IV were maps of the fossil mines. Herein, the figures and tables are referred to as successive figures with Arabic numerals, in the order in which they are discussed. The translation follows below.