The Dinosaur Artist by Paige Williams

Staff Pick

The phenomenal The Dinosaur Artist (Hachette, $28) is at once natural history and a history of paleontology; it’s a biography of fossil hunters, an overview of women paleontologists and a true crime story about the international smuggling of Mongolian fossils, and, finally, it’s an authoritative presentation of the complex questions of natural history relics and who has the right to them. Paige Williams organizes all this material around 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 because the lot had originated in the Gobi Desert, the sale was cancelled, Prokopi was 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

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