Kyzyl Kum
The Kyzyl Kum also called Qyzylqum, is the 11th largest desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

 in the world. Its name means Red Sand in Turkic languages
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

. It is located in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 in the doab
A Doab is a term used in India and Pakistan for a "tongue" or tract of land lying between two confluent rivers...

 between the rivers Amu Darya
Amu Darya
The Amu Darya , also called Oxus and Amu River, is a major river in Central Asia. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers...

 and Syr Darya
Syr Darya
The Syr Darya , also transliterated Syrdarya or Sirdaryo, is a river in Central Asia, sometimes known as the Jaxartes or Yaxartes from its Ancient Greek name . The Greek name is derived from Old Persian, Yakhsha Arta , a reference to the color of the river's water...

, and is divided between Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 and (partly) Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

. It covers about 298,000 km² (approximately 115,000 sq mi).


The territory consists mainly of an extensive plain at an altitude up to 300 m (about 1000 feet) above sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

, with a number of depressions and highlands (Sultanuizdag, Bukantau). Most of the area is covered with sand-dunes (barchan
A barchan dune, also barkhan is an arc-shaped sand ridge, comprising well-sorted sand. This type of dune possesses two "horns" that face downwind, with the slip face at the angle of repose of sand, or approximately 35 degrees . The upwind side is packed by the wind, and stands at about 15 degrees...

s); in the North-West large areas are covered with takirs (clay coatings); there are also some oases. There are agricultural
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 settlements along the river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s and in the oases
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

. Temperatures can be very high during the summer months, from mid-May to mid-September. Kerki, one extreme inland city located on the banks of the Amu Darya River, recorded 51.7C in July 1983.


Desert fauna include the Russian tortoise
Russian Tortoise
The Russian tortoise, Horsfield's tortoise or Central Asian tortoise is a species of tortoise that is a popular pet...

 (Testudo horsfieldii) and a large lizard known as the Transcaspian or Desert Monitor (Varanus griseus
Varanus griseus
The Desert Monitor, Varanus griseus, is a species of monitor lizard of the order Squamata found living throughout North Africa and western Asia. Varanus griseus is divided into three distinct subspecies: Varanus griseus griseus , Varanus griseus caspius , and Varanus griseus koniecznyi...

), which can reach lengths of 1.6 m (5 ft). The Saiga Antelope
Saiga Antelope
The saiga is a Critically Endangered antelope which originally inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian steppe zone from the foothills of the Carpathians and Caucasus into Dzungaria and Mongolia. They also lived in North America during the Pleistocene...

 (Saiga tatarica) also occasionally migrates through the northern part of the desert.

There is a Kyzyl Kum nature reserve in Bukhara Province, founded in 1971. The area of the reserve amounts to 101,000 km² (approximately 39,000 sq mi) and it is located on flood-land (tugai) drained by the Amu-Darya close to the settlement Dargan Ata
Dargan Ata
Dagan Ata is a town in central northern Turkmenistan. It lies near the riverine border with Uzbekistan....

. Fauna include: the Bukhara Deer
Bactrian deer
The Bactrian deer , also called the Bukhara deer, Bokhara deer or Bactrian wapiti, is a lowland subspecies of Red Deer that is native to central Asia. It is similar in ecology to the Yarkand deer in occupying riparian corridors surrounded by deserts...

 (a local species of Cervus elaphus), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa), Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetus) etc.

Another reserve (or eco-centre), "Djeyran", is located 40 km to the south of Bukhara
Bukhara , from the Soghdian βuxārak , is the capital of the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan. The nation's fifth-largest city, it has a population of 263,400 . The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time...

. The total area of this reserve is 51,450 km² (approximately 20,000 sq mi). It is a breeding centre for rare animals such as: the Goitered or Persian Gazelle Gazelle
A gazelle is any of many antelope species in the genus Gazella, or formerly considered to belong to it. Six species are included in two genera, Eudorcas and Nanger, which were formerly considered subgenera...

 (Djeyran, Gazella subgutturosa
Goitered Gazelle
The Goitered, Black-tailed or Persian gazelle is a gazelle found in the north part of Azerbaijan, in a large area of central Asia, including part of Iran and southern west Pakistan in the western end of the range, as well as the Gobi desert...

), Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski's Horse or Dzungarian Horse, is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to the steppes of central Asia, specifically China and Mongolia.At one time extinct in the wild, it has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia at the Khustain Nuruu...

 (Equus przewalskii), the Koulan (Onager
The Onager is a large member of the genus Equus of the family Equidae native to the deserts of Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel and Tibet...

, Equus hemionus) and Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata). The reserve was founded in 1977 on the enclosed area in 5,131 ha.


The Kyzyl Kum has exposed rock formations
Geologic formation
A formation or geological formation is the fundamental unit of lithostratigraphy. A formation consists of a certain number of rock strata that have a comparable lithology, facies or other similar properties...

 that have yielded a number of fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

s. Of particular interest is the Bissekty Formation
Bissekty Formation
The Bissekty Formation is situated in the Kyzyl Kum desert of Uzbekistan, and dates from the late Cretaceous Period. Laid down in the early the Turonian to Coniacian stages, it is dated to about 90-85 ma .The Bissekty Formation is characterised by a mix of marine, brackish, freshwater, and...

 of Uzbekistan, from the early Late Cretaceous
Late Cretaceous
The Late Cretaceous is the younger of two epochs into which the Cretaceous period is divided in the geologic timescale. Rock strata from this epoch form the Upper Cretaceous series...

, which has produced several species of early bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s: Enantiornis
Enantiornis is a genus of predatory enantiornithine bird. The type and only currently accepted species E. leali is from Late Cretaceous rocks at El Brete, Argentina....

and E. walkeri, Kizylkumavis
Kizylkumavis was an enantiornithine bird. It lived during the Late Cretaceous about 75 mya and is known from fossils found in the Bissekty Formation of the Kyzyl Kum, Uzbekistan....

cretacea, Kuszholia
Kuszholia is the name given to a genus of primitive bird or bird-like dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous. It was possibly a coelurosaur close to the ancestry of birds, although most scientists have considered it an avialan...

, Lenesornis
Lenesornis was an enantiornithine bird. It lived during the Late Cretaceous about 78 mya and is known from fossils found in the Bissekty Formation in the Kyzyl Kum, Uzbekistan....

, Sazavis
Sazavis was an enantiornithine bird from the Late Cretaceous. It might have been related to Alexornis and Kizylkumavis and lived in what is now the Kyzyl Kum of Uzbekistan....

, Zhyraornis
Zhyraornis is a genus of prehistoric bird from the late Cretaceous period . Its fossils have been found in Bissekty Formation deposits near Dzharakuduk in the Kyzyl Kum, Uzbekistan. Two species have been assigned to this genus: Zhyraornis kashkarovi and Zhyraornis logunovi...

, and Z. logunovi are recognized as valid species. Tyrannosaurid
Tyrannosauridae is a family of coelurosaurian theropod dinosaurs which comprises two subfamilies containing up to six genera, including the eponymous Tyrannosaurus. The exact number of genera is controversial, with some experts recognizing as few as three...

, therizinosaur
Therizinosaurs are theropod dinosaurs belonging to the clade Therizinosauria. Therizinosaur fossils have been found in Early through Late Cretaceous deposits in Mongolia, the People's Republic of China and Western North America...

id, ostrich-mimic
The Ornithomimosauria, ornithomimosaurs or ostrich dinosaurs were theropod dinosaurs which bore a superficial resemblance to modern ostriches. They were fast, omnivorous or herbivorous dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period of Laurasia...

, oviraptorosauria
Oviraptorosaurs are a group of feathered maniraptoran dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period of what are now Asia and North America. They are distinct for their characteristically short, beaked, parrot - like skulls, with or without bony crests atop the head...

n, troodontid
Troodontidae is a family of bird-like theropod dinosaurs. During most of the 20th century, troodontid fossils were few and scrappy and they have therefore been allied, at various times, with many dinosaurian lineages...

, armored
Ankylosauria is a group of herbivorous dinosaurs of the order Ornithischia. It includes the great majority of dinosaurs with armor in the form of bony osteoderms. Ankylosaurs were bulky quadrupeds, with short, powerful limbs. They are first known to have appeared in the early Jurassic Period of...

, duckbilled
Hadrosaurids or duck-billed dinosaurs are members of the family Hadrosauridae, and include ornithopods such as Edmontosaurus and Parasaurolophus. They were common herbivores in the Upper Cretaceous Period of what are now Asia, Europe and North America. They are descendants of the Upper...

, and horned
Ceratopsia or Ceratopia is a group of herbivorous, beaked dinosaurs which thrived in what are now North America, Europe, and Asia, during the Cretaceous Period, although ancestral forms lived earlier, in the Jurassic. The earliest known ceratopsian, Yinlong downsi, lived between 161.2 and 155.7...

Dinosaurs are a diverse group of animals of the clade and superorder Dinosauria. They were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for over 160 million years, from the late Triassic period until the end of the Cretaceous , when the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event led to the extinction of...

s are also known from this rock unit. Other fossils from the Cretaceous rocks of the Kyzyl Kum include tree trunks, pelecypods
Bivalvia is a taxonomic class of marine and freshwater molluscs. This class includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, and many other families of molluscs that have two hinged shells...

, beetle
Coleoptera is an order of insects commonly called beetles. The word "coleoptera" is from the Greek , koleos, "sheath"; and , pteron, "wing", thus "sheathed wing". Coleoptera contains more species than any other order, constituting almost 25% of all known life-forms...

s, shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

s, rays
Batoidea is a superorder of cartilaginous fish commonly known as rays and skates, containing more than 500 described species in thirteen families...

, bony fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, frog
Frogs are amphibians in the order Anura , formerly referred to as Salientia . Most frogs are characterized by a short body, webbed digits , protruding eyes and the absence of a tail...

s, salamander
Salamander is a common name of approximately 500 species of amphibians. They are typically characterized by a superficially lizard-like appearance, with their slender bodies, short noses, and long tails. All known fossils and extinct species fall under the order Caudata, while sometimes the extant...

s, turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

s, crocodylomorphs
The Crocodylomorpha are an important group of archosaurs that include the crocodilians and their extinct relatives.During Mesozoic and early Tertiary times the Crocodylomorpha were far more diverse than they are now. Triassic forms were small, lightly built, active terrestrial animals. These were...

, pterosaur
Pterosaurs were flying reptiles of the clade or order Pterosauria. They existed from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous Period . Pterosaurs are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight...

s, and a varied fauna of small early mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s. Paleontologists that have worked in this area include J. David Archibald, Alexander Averianov, Sergei Kurzanov
Sergei Kurzanov
Sergei Kurzanov is a Russian paleontologist at the Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is known mainly for his work in Mongolia and the ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia. In 1998, a species of iguanodont dinosaur from Mongolia was named Altirhinus kurzanovi in his...

, Lev Nesov, Anatoly Riabinin, Anatoly Rozhdestvensky
Anatoly Konstantinovich Rozhdestvensky
Anatoly Konstantinovich Rozhdestvensky was a Russian paleontologist responsible for naming many dinosaurs, including Aralosaurus and Probactrosaurus....

, and Hans-Dieter Sues
Hans-Dieter Sues
Hans-Dieter Sues is a German-born paleontologist who is Senior Scientist and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. He received his education at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz , University of Alberta, and...



The local population uses the large spaces of the Kyzyl Kum as a pasture for livestock (mostly sheep, Bactrian Camel
Bactrian camel
The Bactrian camel is a large, even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of central Asia. It is presently restricted in the wild to remote regions of the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts of Mongolia and Xinjiang. A small number of wild Bactrian camels still roam the Mangystau Province of southwest...

s and dromedaries
The dromedary or Arabian camel is a large, even-toed ungulate with one hump on its back. Its native range is unclear, but it was probably the Arabian Peninsula. The domesticated form occurs widely in North Africa and the Middle East...


The Kyzyl Kum is well known for its deposits of gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

, copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

 and silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

, natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 and oil. The development of most the famous gold-field at Muruntau began in the early 1970s. The centres for the mining and smelting industry at the region are Navoi, Zarafshan city, Uchkuduk. The major industrial enterprises are: НГМК (Navoi Mining and Smelting Complex) and the Uzbek U.S.A. Joint Venture "Zarafshan-Newmont". The centres of the gas-production industry are Gazli and Mubarek.

See also

  • Andronovo culture
    Andronovo culture
    The Andronovo culture, is a collection of similar local Bronze Age cultures that flourished ca. 21200–1400 BCE in western Siberia and the west Asiatic steppe. It is probably better termed an archaeological complex or archaeological horizon...

  • Aydar Lake
    Aydar Lake
    The Aydar Lake is part of the man-made Aydar-Arnasay system of lakes, which covers an area of 4,000 square kilometres . This system includes 3 brackish water lakes located in the saline depressions of the south-eastern Kyzyl Kum...

    , large artificial lake
  • Karakum Desert
    Karakum Desert
    The Karakum Desert, also spelled Kara-Kum and Gara Gum is a desert in Central Asia. It occupies about 70 percent, or 350,000 km², of the area of Turkmenistan....

    , another desert of Central Asia
  • List of deserts by area
  • Sarmishsay
    The Sarmish Gorge is located on the southern slopes of the Karatau mountain range, 30-40 km to the north-east of the city of Navoi in Uzbekistan. The mountain range of the Karatau is considered to be one of the western spurs of the Turkestan Mountain Ridge of the Western Tien Shan...

    , ancient monuments of anthropogenic activity
  • Central Asian northern desert
    Central Asian northern desert
    The Central Asian northern desert is an ecoregion in the deserts and xeric shrublands biome, located in the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan-Setting:...

    , an ecoregion largely corresponding with the Kyzyl Kum

External links

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