"You have written a new chapter in the history of life upon the earth."
When Roy Chapman Andrews read these words from American Museum of Natural History president Henry Fairfield Osborn, he was being congratulated on his discovery of a new species of dinosaur. A stunned scientific community named it Protoceratops andrewsi in his honor.
Andrews led five scientific expeditions to Mongolia's desert, the Gobi, from 1922 to 1930. He was a pioneer of modern field research, but it was his team's fossil discoveries that amazed the world—especially the first-ever complete nest of dinosaur eggs. These were remarkable achievements for a man who began his scientific career scrubbing floors at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
It wasn't easy. Along the way, he battled sandstorms, snakes, and bandit attacks. He drove through parts of the desert that had never seen cars before, and he had to have spare tires—and every drop of gasoline—carted in by camel.
Roy Chapman Andrews had a love of adventure that took him all over the globe. This action-packed story, actual expedition photographs, and quotes from Andrews himself present a great explorer of his century—and a grand tale of adventure!
I have a special fondness for Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs because it's my first published book. I'd heard of (and actually written about) Roy Chapman Andrews years before I had the idea to create a book about him. I thought he'd make the perfect subject for a kids' book. There were the dinosaurs he'd discovered, all of his adventures, and those persistent rumors about his role as a real-life "Indiana Jones."
Two scraps of research kept me going while I worked on the project, off-and-on, for five years. One was a quote, the other a photo. Both summed up Andrews so well and seemed too good to remain obscure. I tacked them up by my computer and persevered until they made it into print. Here they are:
"In the [first] fifteen years [of field work] I can remember just ten times when I had really narrow escapes from death. Two were from drowning in typhoons, one was when our boat was charged by a wounded whale; once my wife and I were nearly eaten by wild dogs, once we were in great danger from fanatical lama priests; two were close calls when I fell over cliffs, once I was nearly caught by a huge python, and twice I might have been killed by bandits."
—Roy Chapman Andrews
On the Trail of Ancient Man
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1926, pages 20-21
Here's my favorite photo. It still cracks me up. What a contrast—perhaps the oldest beast of burden laden with the symbol of modern transportation, a car tire—and both of them heading off for adventure in the Gobi of Mongolia. Who thought up this crazy idea, anyway? Roy Chapman Andrews, of course.
Here's another image that shows the blending of ancient and modern transportation. It didn't make it into my book, but it makes me chuckle, too. The photo shows a sore-footed camel receiving a "re-tread" patch from a used car tire to help cushion its steps.
Behind the Scenes of Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs
A program for children grades 3-8
by Ann Bausum
Children learn about the explorer Roy Chapman Andrews and about the process of researching a nonfiction book through this "behind-the-scenes" peek at the creation of Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs. I start with an introduction to the life of Roy Chapman Andrews. Then I explore the process of "photo research." This part of the program is illustrated with about 50 images, most of which are not seen in my book. I use these images to enhance reader understanding about Andrews and to explain the process of book illustration.
Once we've taken this closer look at Andrews, I share stories about one or two of his many adventures, as told in his own words. Students may hear about how Andrews escaped being crushed by a huge python, fought off an attack of wild dogs, or survived being surrounded by sharks during a whaling accident.
The program concludes with some basic advice for budding writers (including a pitch for spelling practice) and the opportunity for children to ask questions about Andrews, my work as a writer, and other books I've written. Each presentation is targeted to best serve the grade level of the audience.
Length: 30-40 minutes for program, 10-15 minutes for questions.
Technical requirements: LCD projector and projection screen.
Audience feedback on this program:
"Great presentation! Visuals (photographs) added a lot to the presentation. The students, teachers, and parents enjoyed the content, visuals, and stories."
—Elementary school teacher, South Dakota
"[The program] was great, and the kids enjoyed it very much!"
—Elementary school librarian, South Dakota
The Lucky Star of Roy Chapman Andrews
An illustrated program for teens and adults
by Ann Bausum
"... I can remember just ten times when I had really narrow escapes from death...."
—Roy Chapman Andrews, 1926
Actually there were more than ten times, and you'll hear about most of them—from battles with man-eating sharks, to escapes from the clutches of a giant python, to encounters with bandits—in this glimpse at the adventures of one of the greatest explorers of all time.
Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960) gained international fame as an explorer for the American Museum of Natural History of New York City. He is most remembered for the series of daring expeditions he led to the Gobi of Mongolia during the 1920s that recovered the first nests of dinosaur eggs, new species of dinosaurs, and rare fossilized mammals. His adventuresome lifestyle—conducted with the aid of his "lucky star"—reveals why Andrews is said to have served as the real-life inspiration for Hollywood's "Indiana Jones" character.
Using excerpts from Andrews's own writings and rarely seen archival photographs, this program recalls some of Andrews's greatest adventures while presenting an overview of the explorer's life.
Length: minimum of 50 minutes for program, 10-15 minutes for questions.
Technical requirements: LCD projector and projection screen. Podium with reading light and microphone.
"Well-researched book....The absorbing text invites readers into a world distant in both space and time....Exemplary work on an extraordinary individual."
—School Library Journal, starred review
"A generous array of atmospheric, sometimes dramatic, contemporary photographs....[A] tribute to a man whose writings and exploits continue to inspire dinosaur hunters of all ages."
January 15, 2000
"Bausum's account reads smoothly, and a layout dense with captioned sepia photographs and quotes from Andrews provides plenty of oases for readers as they follow him through the desert....[The back matter] will be a boon to report writers, but armchair adventurers and dino-philes won't want to wait for an assignment to join this expedition."
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, recommended as a book of special distinction
"An engaging photobiography....With a fascinating subject like Andrews, the best thing a biographer can do is let the story tell itself. Bausum smartly follows that advice, offering a well-organized and straightforward look at Andrews's remarkable life. While the text makes compelling reading, it is the stunning photographs. . .that make this book irresistible."
—The Washington Post
May 21, 2000
"An inspiring character portrait, illustrated with dramatic contemporary photos and capped by well-chosen lists of books and Web sites."
—School Library Journal
From an article listing 25 "Science books to answer the question, and to keep young readers asking it"
May 1, 2003
"...How [Andrews] rose from scrub boy to director of New York's Museum of Natural History makes for a good Horatio Alger-type yarn. And how he put together pivotal explorations of Mongolian fossil fields makes great reading for armchair adventurers. Handsome book design supports this multidimensional book, which is part biography, part history, part science..."
—San Francisco Chronicle
July 30, 2000
"Who was the real-life model for the fictional Indiana Jones? Perhaps it was explorer Roy Chapman Andrews, the subject of this stunning photo-biography that chronicles his pivotal fossil finds in Central Asia during the 1920s and his difficult tenure as director of New York's Museum of Natural History."
—San Francisco Chronicle
November 19, 2000
2001 Juvenile Literary Award
from Friends of American Writers, Chicago—presented annually to new authors who either reside in or set their books in the Midwest
Cooperative Children's Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Outstanding Books by Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators for 2001
one of ten children's books chosen by the Wisconsin Library Association
2000 National Parenting Publication Awards
Blue Ribbon List
Center for Children's Books University of Illinois in Urbana
2001 Books for the Teen Age List
New York Public Library
Roy Chapman Andrews Society
This organization promotes the importance of Andrews's explorations by recognizing some of the best explorers living today. Click here to find out more about modern-day scientists who continue the traditions set by Roy Chapman Andrews. This site has background information about Andrews, too, and his hometown ties to Beloit, Wisconsin.
American Museum of Natural History
Find out about the latest research by scientists at the museum that was home to Roy Chapman Andrews from his first job (scrubbing floors) to his last (as director).
2D and 3D IMAX feature film, 2007
National Geographic Society
This page of the National Geographic web site introduces viewers to some of the Society's newest explorers.
Roy Chapman Andrews was a devoted member of the Explorers Club.
Dragon Hunter—Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions by Charles Gallenkamp, Viking (2001).
"The Dinosaur Hunters,"
National Geographic EXPLORER series, 1997.
"All About" books by Roy Chapman Andrews. You can find them in used book collections, some libraries, and on the shelves of many of today's scientists. Books by Andrews like All About Dinosaurs, All About Whales, and All About Strange Beasts of the Past convinced many young readers from earlier decades to become the explorers and scientists we know today.
Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs: A Photobiography of Explorer Roy Chapman Andrews
National Geographic Society
64 pages, hardcover
Includes 40 duo-tone photos, map, resource guide, index