For nearly 30 years scientist Paul Sereno has trekked from the dusty deserts of South America to the secluded valleys of Asia in search of dinosaur remains.
The paleontologist began his fieldwork in Argentina, scouring the foothills of the Andes Mountains for bones. After weeks of digging and no major finds, his team was ready to leave. “But just as we were preparing to go, I decided to look in one place we’d missed,” Sereno says. Here he noticed vertebrae eroding from a sandstone ledge. His eyes followed the neck bones one by one, right up to the base of a dinosaur skull. Sereno had uncovered the nearly complete skeleton of Herrerasaurus, one of the earliest dinosaurs. “I felt as if I had found a 230-million-year-old needle in a monstrous haystack,” he says.
Over the years Sereno has discovered many more dinosaur remains—in Africa’s Sahara alone, his team excavated a hundred tons of dinosaur fossils. He took paleontology to new heights when he found a dinosaur buried at an elevation of 13,000 feet in Tibet. And the scientist even unearthed a 40-foot-long extinct crocodile species known as SuperCroc that turned dinos into snacks.
In 2013, Sereno and a team of international scientists reconstructed the skeleton of Spinosaurus, the first dinosaur known to spend much of its life in water. He continues to search for clues about the ancient reptiles that once ruled the Earth.
So what’s Sereno’s advice for people who want a job digging for dinos? Says Sereno, “Be active, be productive, and test your limits.”