The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth’s Ultimate Trophy

Paige Williams. Hachette, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-38253-3
New Yorker staff writer Williams uses the story of fossil enthusiast Eric Prokopi to illuminate the murky world of modern fossil hunting in this fascinating account. The story begins with Eric’s discovery, around age five, of a fossilized shark tooth off the coast of Florida, which sparked a lifelong fascination with prehistoric life. Eric’s passion led him to take a cataloguing position with the Florida Museum of Natural History, and later to teach himself how to prepare fossils for exhibition. Williams carries this tale through Eric’s starting a business to sell his acquisitions, to his prosecution in 2012 by the federal government for smuggling into the U.S. and auctioning off Tarbosaurus bones deemed the rightful property of Mongolia, where they were found. Williams provides just the right amount of context, from the long-standing tensions between paleontologists and commercial fossil dealers, to Mongolia’s hardscrabble history since the days of Genghis Khan. To this foundation of solid research, she adds a vivid storytelling style. The combination results in a triumphant book that will appeal to a wide audience. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/02/2018
Release date: 09/11/2018
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-4598-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-4596-4
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