The Dinosaur Artist - Paige Williams

Staff Pick

Like a massive trove of fossils, each skeleton with dozens of stories to tell, this phenomenal book is at once natural history and a history of paleontology; it’s a biography of fossil hunters from 1841—when Sir Richard Owen coined the word “dinosaur,” meaning “terrible lizard”—to today, when successful amateur hunters risk becoming felons; it’s an overview of women paleontologists, with fascinating profiles of Mary Anning, who began collecting and selling Jurassic fossils in Lyme Regis when she was a teenager, and Bolor Minjin, a Mongolian scientist who founded the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs and initiated science education programs for children in Mongolia; it’s a true crime story about the international smuggling of Mongolian fossils and the Mongolian government’s efforts to repatriate them; and, finally, it’s an authoritative presentation of the complex questions of natural history relics and who has the right to them. Williams, a vivid and energetic writer, organizes all this material around the story of Eric Prokopi, a Florida fossil hunter and dealer. Prokopi’s career coincided with discoveries like that of Tyrannosaurus Sue, a South Dakota skeleton that sold for $8.36 million in 1992. As “fossils became money,” scientists grew concerned that specimens crucial to research would disappear into private collections. Though efforts to restrict private ownership of fossils has been slow in the U.S., Mongolia passed strict laws prohibiting export of bones found within its borders. These laws caught up with Prokopi just as he’d prepared a rare Tyrannosaurus bataar—related to the T. rex—for auction in 2012. It would have sold for a million dollars, but the lot had originated in the Gobi Desert. The sale was cancelled, Prokopi was tried and convicted of smuggling, and the bones went back to their home. Williams presents the competing claims so compellingly that you root for both sides.    

The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth's Ultimate Trophy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316382533
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Hachette Books - September 11th, 2018

Membership Benefits


 Gift cards can be used online or in-store.

Gift Card