Today is my birthday. I mean my actual birthday, because I started celebrating last week. I’ve seen all of my friends, most of my family (except my mom who is back home) and gotten loads of presents. It's been a pretty great celebration.
My birthday is shared with entertainer Liza Minnelli and American baseball player Darryl Strawberry and is a day after the death of one of the greatest explorers that ever lived: Roy Chapman Andrews died on March 11, 1960.
Roy Chapman Andrews was the real life Indian Jones, it was his adventures that inspired the fictional character. He was a naturalist, traveler, explorer and author.
Though he had a college degree he was so desperate to work at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) he took up a job scrubbing floors. A combination of taxidermy skills, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, enthusiasm and ambition allowed him to finally convince the museum’s director, Henry Fairfield Osborn, to let him lead the museum’s most ambitious expedition: an exploration of the Gobi Desert. Andrews had to raise his own financial support and in 1922 made his first expedition to the Gobi to find the ‘missing link’ for Man. Bandits, venomous snakes, sandstorms were only some of the perilous and dangerous obstacles he faced. Instead of discovering human fossils, as he expected, he discovered mammals, reptiles and the first dinosaur eggs.
In 1934, after a series of expeditions to East Asia, he became the director of the AMNH and retired eight years later to the quiet town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where he wrote about his adventures. If you haven’t read any of his books I would recommend doing so. I read his autobiography Under a Lucky Star last year which chronicles many of his life’s adventures. Tough book to find, but definitely worth the read!