Roy Chapman Andrews Tames the World, Discovers Dinosaurs
This legendary explorer, academic, and survivalist may have been a primary inspiration for our beloved Indiana Jones. He was born in Wisconsin just before the turn of the century: 1884. Roy grew up hunting with a shotgun, and his marksmanship landed him plenty of game. His interest in animal life (and taking it) led him to taxidermy, a skill that he taught himself. The outdoors always seemed to call to young Roy, and while on a duck hunting trip with a friend, his dear mother nature did her best to kill him. After their boat capsized on a freezing river, Roy had to swim against the current to shore. He narrowly escaped the drowning fate met by his partner, and surviving the ordeal only strengthened his resolve to explore the world.
Andrews was the very embodiment of the American Spirit. He dreamed of working at the American Museum of National History, and jumped a train to New York as soon as he could after graduating college. When the museum staff told him that no jobs were available, he volunteered to scrub the floor. Eventually, the taxidermy department took notice of him and gave him a job doing basic cleaning and organizing tasks. Like most people in Ray’s life, they soon realized that he could be a valuable asset and he rose through the ranks of the Museum quickly.
The World Tries to Kill Roy, The Early Years
Andrews had a lifelong ambition of daring-do and general adventuring. The opportunity arose for him to partake in some field work, namely retrieving a whale skeleton for the museum. The task was made difficult by the fact that the massive mammal’s bones had sunken into the sand. Despite freezing weather and a storm, Roy and his partner returned with the skeleton, which still lies on display. Having proved his mettle, he set out to further test the reaper’s patience. Within his first fifteen years of fieldwork, Roy had almost died around ten times:
- Deadly Typhoon #1
- Deadly Typhoon #2
- Wounded Whale Charges Boat
- Wife & Roy Nearly Eaten by Wild Dogs
- Fanatical Lama Priests
- Falling over Cliff #1
- Falling over Cliff #2
- Nearly Devoured by Monster Python
- Bandits Nearly Murder Him #1
- Bandits Nearly Murder Him #2
Roy Explores the Gobi Desert in a Dodge (Well, a Fleet of Them)
The Gobi Desert is one of the most indomitable landscapes on the face of the planet. It’s a 500,000 square mile patch of awful: freezing at night, blazing hot in the daytime. Gobi literally means “place without water.” It was also full of fossils, so it was a natural stomping grounds for an aggressive academic like Roy Chapman Andrews. He purchased a fleet of Dodge vehicles (built a lot like Jeeps) in Peking, and used them to cover more ground, bring more equipment, and generally be a more effective explorer than his predecessors. During his expeditions in the Gobi, Andrews is credited with discovering 5 dinosaurs, including the Velociraptor. His party was also the first in the world ever to find dinosaur eggs.
The Snake Attack
One night, while the group of explorers were sleeping in the Gobi, a group of snakes silently infiltrated their encampment, intent on murdering them. When the startled scientists awoke, they reacted quickly. In total, they killed 47 of the venomous creatures.
Revolvers, Cars, & Revolution
Roy always carried a revolver, and always wore a ranger-style hat. Bandits were a real problem for explorers in Asia at this time- mostly Mongols just looking to scrape together a living. The American caravan had a mounted machine gun on one of their cars, rifles, and ammunition both for hunting and protection. One day, Roy spotted three bandits on horseback charging their rifles, seemingly alright with the idea of a fight. His response was to gun his engine and charge them while firing his revolver at them through his window. Their horses fled the roaring vehicle, and our hero was later quoted as saying “When I last saw them they were breaking all speed records on the other side of the valley.”
His Asian expedition became even more fraught with bullets when he was caught in the middle of the Chinese civil war. His group was discovered by a contingent of soldiers who ignored his friendly flag and tried their best to kill him. Thankfully, their aim was just a bit worse than your average storm trooper. Andrews & Co. drove like hell avoiding bullets from houses, a machine gun behind them, and all of their flanks: “For three miles we ran the gauntlet of firing from both sides of the road.”
It’s safe to say that Roy Chapman Andrews was an easy pick for Frontiersman of the Week. The man was a living legend, and a real-life Indiana Jones.