Roy Andrews Dug Deep To Hunt Down Dinosaurs

Thursday, March 3, 2011

If Roy Chapman Andrews wasn't actually Indiana Jones — the explorer-hero of the George Lucas movies — he was as close as one gets as a scientist.

His hunt for dinosaur bones in the 1920s, known as the Central Asiatic Expeditions, led him into the unmapped Gobi Desert.

He and his team had to survive killer sandstorms, murderous bandits, ruthless warlords, blizzards, fatal diseases, civil wars, snakes, lack of water, corrupt officials, flash floods and new communist regimes hostile to Americans.

"Roy Chapman Andrews led one of the most dramatic and successful scientific quests of the 20th century," Michael Novacek, senior vice president of the American Museum of Natural History and author of "Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs," told IBD. "His enterprise gave evidence of dinosaur eggs and new kinds of dinosaurs and ancient mammals that affirmed that a huge, mysterious world still contained things that were utterly astounding and awaiting discovery."

Born in Beloit, Wis., Andrews (1884-1960) grew up enthralled by the book "Robinson Crusoe," which he insisted his mother read him a dozen times.

Andrews enrolled at Beloit College in 1902, where he learned about Darwin's theory of evolution . Rather than sit glued to the classroom, he wandered the woods and worked as a taxidermist.

Meanwhile, he devoured books by Henry Stanley and Richard Burton, U.K. explorers of the 1800s.

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