January 16, 1995 12:00 PM

>Louie Psihoyos


“DINOSAURS WERE PROOF THAT IF there is a God, he has a sense of humor,” says photojournalist Louie Psihoyos, 37. “Imagine t-Rex, an animal with a five-foot skull and little arms that were so ineffectual, it couldn’t even scratch its ear.”

Psihoyos has a sense of humor too, as he shows in such seminal National Geographic pieces as “The Fascinating World of Trash,” and he’s not afraid of big conceptual stories. Hunting Dinosaurs evolved from a two-year assignment to interview preeminent dino paleontologists and photograph their finds. Psihoyos and his assistant John Knoebber carried 42 cases of gear over 300,000 miles and shot more than 50,000 pictures in their quest.

Their most precious cargo, however, was the skull of the celebrated 19th-century bone hunter Edward Drinker Cope, whose remains they discovered in storage at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology of the University of Pennsylvania. “He was given to us in a cardboard box, and we were concerned,” says Psihoyos, “so we made a mahogany box with velvet lining and took him pretty much everywhere.”

Everywhere included the Patagonia badlands and Mongolia, where Psihoyos, a semivegetarian, carted along a case of tuna fish. For the most part though, the professor traveled in style. “He had lunch with us in some of the world’s finest restaurants and stayed in nice hotels,” says Psihoyos. “We didn’t flaunt him, but paleontologists are a curious lot, and when they found out what was in the box, everyone wanted to meet him and be photographed with him. It was pretty much like bringing Elvis to Graceland.”

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