As a testament to Harrison Ford’s acting abilities, we are all familiar with the face of Indiana Jones…
He captivated audiences in four Indiana Jones movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark – 1981, Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom – 1984, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – 1989, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – 2008 and now there are rumors that he’ll be starring in a fifth Indiana Jones movie at some point in the near future. That’s one impressive character career!
But did you know that the real inspiration for Indiana Jones looked like this…
Meet Roy Chapman Andrews – a Wisconsin-born naturalist, explorer, taxidermist and all around adventurer. Ms. Jeannie first became familiar with him, when she listed this book in her Etsy shop…
At first glance it looks like a beautifully illustrated children’s book about the rise and fall of dinosaurs – but in actuality, this book is so much more – it’s part memoir, part textbook, part field guide to Andrew’s firsthand experiences unearthing dinosaurs in Mongolia and the Gobi dessert in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Written in 1953, after he had retired as the Director of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Andrews set about recording his adventures. This book in particular, was geared towards children in hopes of inspiring future generations of scientists. And Andrews had a lot to share with his young audience.
Credited with bringing back the first known fossil dinosaur eggs to the Museum, from an expedition he led in the Gobi Desert, Andrews believed in his natural instincts when few others did.
In true pioneering style, Andrews led teams of scientists into the uncharted shifting desert sands via automobile and camel in the 1920’s. Industry professionals doubted his abilities, doubted his hypothesis’ and frankly, doubted his mindset.
Mongolia was off the radar. How could anything scientific be uncovered in a sandy landscape that was constantly windswept, arid and blazing in temperature? Plus there were warring tribes, logistical difficulties and governmental red tape to overcome. Now, does that sound like a task for Indiana Jones or what?
Andrews wasn’t intimated by any of these challenges. He was confident in his own abilities and that of his team and was certain that they would find something out there in the sand. And of course, with the dinosaur eggs, later with other fossils, he did. And of course, he returned to the States with fanfare and celebration and new celebrity status.
Andrews worked on excavations in the Gobi Desert until 1930 when both political roadblocks and the Great Depression stymied the project. He returned to New York as a larger than life figure where fans waited with baited breath to hear about all of his exotic tales. Four years later he became director of the American Museum of Natural History, which now holds the largest collection of fossil amphibians, reptiles and birds in the world. In 1942, he retired to Carmel, California to set pen to paper and record the first-hand accounts of a lifetime spent studying his passion.
Not a bad lesson to teach children. Believe in yourself and your abilities, set your mind to task and you’ll have nothing standing in your way.
SPECIAL NOTE: While Ms. Jeannie was preparing this blog post, her All About Dinosaurs book sold. It was purchased as a birthday present for a 10 year old boy named Finley. Ms. Jeannie hopes you will all join her, dear blog readers, in wishing Finley a most happy birthday. And to Finley – may this year be full of thrilling adventures and daring discoveries:)
“Always there has been an adventure just around the corner–and the world is still full of corners.”– Roy Chapman Andrews