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The story of the extraordinary adventures behind the man who has discovered some of the amazing wonders of natural history.
Every year millions of museum visitors marvel at the skeletons of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures discovered by John Bell Hatcher. The life of the “King of Collectors” is every bit as fascinating as the mighty bones and fossils he unearthed.
Hatcher helped discover and mount much of the Carnegie Museum's world famous, 150 million-year-old skeleton of Diplodocus, a slender-necked, long-tailed, plant-eater whose skeleton has captivated our collective imaginations for more than a century. But that wasn’t all Hatcher discovered. During a now legendary collecting campaign in Wyoming between 1889 and 1892, Hatcher discovered a 66 million-year-old horned dinosaur, Torosaurus, as well as the first scientifically significant set of skeletons from its evolutionary cousin, Triceratops. Refusing to restrict his talents to enormous dinosaurs, he also discovered the first significant sample of mammal teeth from our relatives that lived 66 million years ago. The teeth might have been minute, but this extraordinary discovery filled a key gap in humanity’s own evolutionary history.
Hatcher’s discoveries form the bases of some of the most beloved and well-known collections and institutions in the world—Yale, The Peabody Museum, Princeton University, the Carnegie Museum, and more. Nearly one hundred and twenty-five years after Hatcher’s monumental “hunts” ended, acclaimed paleontologist Lowell Dingus invites us to revisit Hatcher’s captivating expeditions and marvel at this real-life Indiana Jones and the vital role he played in our understanding of paleontology.
“Palaeontologist Lowell Dingus exhaustively tracks Hatcher’s short but storied life, from early work for luminaries such as Othniel Charles Marsh to the astounding digs in fossil hotspots from Kansas to Patagonia that studded Hatcher’s starry scientific trajectory.” — Nature
“From a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, an exhaustive biography of an adventurous bone hunter, a leading figure in the heroic age of American paleontology. There is no lack of fascinating anecdotes. Will interest paleontology buffs.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Gives paleontology enthusiasts a sense of the challenges involved in 19th-century fossil hunting.” — Publishers Weekly
“Readers learn of the great hardships of late-nineteenth-century paleontology and where to see Hatcher’s mounted dinosaurs today.” — Booklist
“Fascinating. An excellent new science biography that will be popular with readers who already have an interest in paleontology or those who would like to develop one.” — Library Journal
“Brilliant. A must-read for anyone interested in dinosaurs, natural history, or discovery.” — Patch