Hunting Dinosaurs

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Louie Psihoyos was reluctant to neglect his usual photographic subjects—the rich, famous, and still alive—to shoot old bones. Luckily, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine, with a little persuasion and a fistful of credit cards, talked him into it. With his sidekick, John Knoebber, 42 cases of gear, and 2,000 rolls of film, Psihoyos shot the bones of dinosaurs from all over the globe. He also interviewed and photographed the world’s top dinosaur paleontologists both out in the field and with their remarkable finds. What Psihoyos and Knoebber accumulated could not be bound by the limited space of a magazine cover story. Still, with Psihoyos’ witty, terrifically informative, and thoroughly digestible commentary running—or romping—alongside his spectacular photographs, HUNTING DINOSAURS looks and reads much like an overgrown NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article.

HUNTING DINOSAURS begins with a quick survey of the great fossil hunters of the past, including Edward Drinker Cope, whose bones accompany Psihoyos and Knoebber on every step of their many journeys and, according to the authors, whose physical (though long decomposed) presence inspired awe and opened otherwise closed doors in paleontological circles. Among the living visited are Paul Sereno, discoverer of the oldest known dinosaur; Bob Bakker, arguably the man who put dinosaurs back in the popular imagination; and Father Giuseppe Leonardi, a kind of Lucille Ball in a clerical collar, famed for sneaking out in the dead of night to steal the footprints of dinosaurs from the quarried flagstones of a Brazilian sidewalk.

HUNTING DINOSAURS is a pictorial expedition through the fantastic world of dinosaur paleontology. Although one will learn more about dinosaurs from this book than one ever did in school, the real achievement of the authors is their conveyance of the never-to-be-outgrown wonder and gritty passion of the bone hunt.