Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Once we were in danger from fanatical lama priests..."

One of the small joys of my life is listening to Science Friday podcasts on the bus to and from school. All spring, Ira Flatow has been interviewing guests with ties to Charles Darwin in commemoration of the sesquicentennial of The Origin of Species. I'm heinously behind, but this evening on the way home, I learned something very very interesting and important.

Roy Chapman Andrews is the official real life Indiana Jones! And he's from Beloit, Wisconsin, which is a half hour from where I grew up and less than ten minutes from my parents' current house!!!!! Apparently his true gift was in taxidermy, but he worked his way up the ladder at the American Museum of Natural History by taking a position sweeping floors and hitting up Andrew Carnegie for money.
The only problem is RCA (as his society seems inclined to call him) isn't really an archaeologist. He's more a paleontologist/evolutionary biologist, who set out looking for hominid fossils in the Gobi desert but instead ended up finding scores of dinosaur fossils, including the first ever identified velociraptor and dinosaur eggs. When I tell people I'm an archaeologist, and they reply "Wow, dinosaurs!", I helpfully correct them by pointing out that Indiana Jones is archaeology, Jurassic Park is paleontology. Way to not understand the difference, George Lucas.

But, he did wear a fedora and carry a pistol, which, as we all know, are really the only relevant aspects here.

When I have free days this summer at my parent's house, I'm going to go look at his birthplace and grave and maybe, finally, eventually, go to the Logan Museum of Anthropology at Beloit College as I have been intending for years. Pictures to come!

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