"Dino Don" Lessem (born 1951) is a writer of more than 50 Popular Science books who specializes in dinosaurs. His works include many children's books on Dinosaurs. He was the founder of the Dinosaur Society and the Jurassic Foundation, which have raised millions for dinosaur research. In recognition of these efforts, the Prosauropod dinosaur Lessemsaurus is named after him.
Mr. Lessem is responsible for reconstructing the skeleton of the world's largest dinosaur, the 100-ton, 120-foot (37 m)-long Argentinosaurus and the world's largest meat-eater, Giganotosaurus, also from Argentina, which is 20% larger than T. rex. Mr. Lessem has participated in dinosaur excavations in Arctic Alaska, China and Argentina.
Schooled in primatology (Biobehavioral Studies Post-Graduate Concentration, U. Mass/Boston 1978) and Asian Art History (B.A., Brandeis University, 1973), Mr. Lessem began his writing career as a researcher for the Smithsonian Center for Short-Lived Phenomena. For more than a decade he was a science journalist specializing in conservation issues for the Boston Globe and a contributor to Life, The New York Times, and Smithsonian Magazine.
Lessem's professional interest in dinosaurs developed while a Knight Journalism Fellow at M.I.T. in 1988. He wrote his first book, Kings of Creation, surveying current dinosaur research worldwide, in 1990.
Mr. Lessem was advisor to the Jurassic Park film and theme park attraction, and to Dinosaur film and Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. He has written and hosted Discovery Channel and NOVA documentaries on dinosaurs and is a television and radio commentator on dinosaur discoveries.
Mr. Lessem's exhibition company, Exhibits Rex, Inc. has created several of the largest and most popular international traveling museum exhibitions of dinosaurs, including Jurassic Park, The Lost World, and Chinasaurs and an exhibition of the treasures of Genghis Khan which appeared in Mongolia, Singapore, Canada and widely in the United States.
Another of Mr. Lessem's companies, Dinodon, Inc., co-holds the sponsorship rights to the principal entry to the Great Wall of China.
As "Dino" Don, Mr. Lessem has authored children's books on dinosaurs, extinct animals, endangered species, the Amazonian rainforest and the "Iceman" mummy. Via his monthly column in Highlights Magazine for a decade, "Dino" Don answered more than 10,000 children's letters. He created the children's non-profit newspaper Dino Times (1981 to 1984). A special edition of 1.3 million copies of Dino Times was distributed at the opening of the Jurassic Park film at the behest of Universal Studios.
Mr. Lessem is also the author of several humor books including: Aerphobics, Death by Roller Disco, How to Flatten Your Nose, and The Worst of Everything. His humor essays have appeared in Punch (magazine), The New York Times and The Atlantic Monthly.
Mr. Lessem was the creator of Earth Quest Adventures, a theme park and resort planned for East Montgomery County, west of Houston, in 2008. He is also the initial designer of a wetlands attraction in Daqing, China and an evolution attraction, Gondwana: Das Praehistorium, in Reden, Germany.
Mr. Lessem resides in Media, Pennsylvania. His wife, Valerie Jones, is a non-profit development consultant. His daughters, Rebecca Lessem, an educational software developer, and Erica Lessem, a public health specialist in tuberculosis, reside in New York.
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