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The Dinosaur that Changed the World!

"Here are strange marls, the relics of infinite animal life, into which has sunk the lizard of the dragon of antiquity—the gigantic Hadrosaurus..." Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, 1873

Fossil Hunter cover

Throughout much of the nineteenth century, fossil hunting was a gentlemen's hobby. Curious fossil hunters, like William Foulke, searched for and, on occasion, found huge fossilized bones—but they could only speculate on their origin. No one knew what a dinosaur looked like, or if they ever really existed, because a complete skeleton had never been found.

Author & Illustrator Michael Dooling's new children's book, Fossil Hunter, brings to life William Parker Foulke's nearly forgotten discovery of Hadrosaurus foulkii—New Jersey's state dinosaur. In 1858, Foulke unearthed the skeleton of a gigantic Hadrosaurus proving what dinosaurs looked like and that they really once existed. His discovery ended years of speculation. It changed paleontology from a gentlemen's hobby to a mainstream science.


Michael did the majority of his research at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia corresponding with paleontologist Dr. Ted Daeschler and studying Foulke's original letters at the Academy's research library. "I have taken some splendid bones from the marl," wrote William. "The fruits are abundant and I wish them to be preserved for science."

Foulke's dig site lingered in obscurity for over a hundred years. In 1984, thirteen-year-old Haddonfield resident and Eagle Scout Christopher Brees researched the site and placed a stone plaque marking Foulke's find. It is now called Hadrosaurus Park. In 1988, fourth grade teacher Joyce Berry and her students at Strawbridge Elementary School in Haddon Township, New Jersey, proposed to the New Jersey State legislature that Hadrosaurus Foulkii be named the state dinosaur. In 1991, it was officially designated the state dinosaur. To commemorate the event, sculptor John Giannotti created a bronze statue of the dinosaur eight feet tall and fifteen feet long nicknamed, Haddy.


The story of the dinosaur that changed the world is a 34-page illustrated children's book, titled Fossil Hunter—complete with sixteen oil paintings illustrating Foulke's quest for monstrous bones, detailed drawings of all forty-nine fossils, and the skeleton. "Strange and monstrous bones!" exclaimed the farmer. "No head was found. Only large vertebrae, except one that resembled a gigantic shoulder blade."

"This is a great addition for any library or classroom!" said one teacher.

In 2013, Michael Dooling was selected for a Top Ten List of great Author Visits by the Pennsylvania School Library Association. He has visited over 950 schools nationwide inspiring children to read. You can purchase Fossil Hunter at and amazon. Contact Michael at

Section last updated November 24, 2015
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