We can not delve into the history of famous dinosaur fossil hunters without first recognizing Sir Charles Darwin, the man who introduced the world to evolution. He did for dinosaurs what Stephen Hawkins did for space, making it truly respectable, scientifically proven, and fun. Dinosaur parks have sprung up wherever major finds have been unearthed, as in Drumheller, Saskatchewan, nearby to the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology, one of the largest dinosaur fossil parks in the world.
Joseph B. Tyrell, namesake for the Alberta dinosaur park, found the skull of the first Albertosaurus, a close relative of the infamous T. Rex, in 1884, a meat-eating lizard of gargantuan proportions. Still to this date they are unearthing more and more dinosaurs at Tyrell every year, learning more and more of what may have caused their demise, and how they interacted. Through the studies that have cumulated since his find in Alberta, the theory of a Glacial melt, a flash-flood of Noah’s Ark proportions wiped out many of the North American dinosaurs. Over 40 species of dinosaur have been identified through the bones and fossils found in these Alberta, Canada wastelands, all thanks to Mr. Tyrell, one of the most proficient of the dinosaur fossil finders.
It is widely accepted that the dinosaurs met their match when a cataclysmic extinction event occurred, likely a meteor striking the earth somewhere near Mexico. The flash flood theory holds as the truer of the likely causes for many dinosaurs found in Canada’s badlands, but for their Southern neighbours in the United States, the extinction event theory is well established.
There are 13 dinosaur fossil parks in the United States alone, making the US the most populous of the dinosaur bone, fossil hunting and recreational parks. Fossil finding is done for fun, research and study of the past history of the earth, as well as for financial reasons, since fully-intact dinosaur remains still fetch millions of dollars, plus the fame that goes along with such a find. The Tombs in Egypt have all pretty much been found, the Mayan civilization has been recorded, and many other ancient civilizations have been studied and documented. However, dinosaur fossil hunting still has a place in today’s scientific fields, as there still may be some dinosaurs that we have no knowledge of yet that could shed a lot more light on the when, where and how of the dinosaur extinction, and how they travelled and lived in communal or familial groups.
Sue Hendrickson is the female dinosaur hunter of all female dinosaur hunters, having found the most intact specimen of a T-Rex to date, in 1990 in South Dakota, and aptly named the lizard-king “Sue”. This is where the financial rewards come into the forefront of dinosaur fossil hunting, as the owner of the land that the T. Rex named Sue was found on won his lawsuit for ownership of the remains. The Field Museum of Natural History paid the landowner $8 Million USD for the stately and intact Sue, and promptly displayed her in one of the more famous displays of Tyrannosaurus Rex, the most sought-after and infamous of the fully intact dinosaurs that we currently know about.
There were the first dinosaur fossil finders, the people who stumbled upon remains while hiking, or dug up in their backyards, but Sue Hendrickson and Joseph Tyrell are the most infamous of the dinosaur fossil hunters. There are famous palaeontologists’ who had made great, early finds, and correctly classified the remains that they found, but none had the impact that these two North American dinosaur fossil hunters had on the makeup of the dinosaur families.