He 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.
He has become a leading authority on the 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 hitherto 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.
Only since the late 1990s, starting with the discovery of feathered dinosaurs, can Barsbold's ideas be fully appreciated. When he published his conclusions - a list of generally rather obscure anatomical features - in 1983, there was fairly little exchange between the Mongolian scientific community and that of Western countries. Moreover, Barsbold's early papers were usually published in Russian, which few Western scientists have any fluency in, and 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 Neozoic bird paleontology. Barsbold's theories initially had most impact among "dinosaur" paleontologists in Mongolia, the USSR, and allied countries.
On the other hand, his influence on dinosaur paleontology in the Communist world was considerable. Barsbold's scientific work has, all in all, been a major factor for our analysis and interpretation of the novel Cretaceous theropods advancing as rapidly as it does.