-12. PAUL SERENO
One fossil discovery after another gave University of Chicago professor Paul Sereno a reputation for having extraordinary luck. Sereno's "luck" was due in part to his willingness to go wherever the bones might be, however difficult and remote the site. His discoveries helped him piece together the family tree of dinosaurs. Sereno's discoveries began during graduate school. In 1984, as the first American graduate student of paleontology to study in China, he identified two new dinosaur species among the bones in Chinese fossil archives. When Chinese authorities rejected his application to dig in the Gobi desert of Mongolia, he took his request to a local official in Mongolia. Sereno explained in French that he wanted to hunt for the bones of big animals. The confused official admitted him under provisions for big-game hunters but offered little hope of finding much game in the desert. Sereno used his findings in China and Mongolia to make a family tree of the ornithischian, or bird-hipped, dinosaurs, one of the two main orders of dinosaurs. He based his work on careful comparison of details of various skeletons. The discovery that made Sereno famous came in 1988, the year after he completed his doctorate and joined the faculty at the University of Chicago. In a dry, dusty Argentina valley among sediments 225 million years old; he found the skull and a nearly complete skeleton of a Herrerasaurus, which, at the time, was the oldest dinosaur ever discovered. Less than a mile away three years later, Sereno found the complete skeleton of a 228-million-year-old dinosaur, which he named Eoraptor. Only six feet long, with sharp teeth and long claws, this earliest known dinosaur looked like a miniature version of Tyrannosaurus rex. It confirmed that dinosaurs began as small, meat-eating animals that walked and ran on their hind legs. Sereno was the first person to conduct extensive searches for dinosaur fossils in Africa. Governmental red tape and conditions in the Sahara desert made his expeditions to Niger in-1993 and Morocco in 1995 two of his most-gruelling, but also most rewarding.
According to the author, Sereno's "luck" was actually a result of his ............. .
ability to speak fluent French
bribing a Chinese government official
position on the staff at the university
working in isolated and inhospitable places
knowledge of hunting large wild animals
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