You probably don't know Mike Novacek by name, but he's one of the most important paleontologists in the world. If you ever yearned to go off into the wilderness and hunt down dinosaur fossils as a kid, Mike Novacek is living your dream.

Dr. Novacek has worked at the American Museum of Natural History since 1982, going from Assistant Curator to Senior Vice President and Provost of Science in that time. In 1990, he was part of the first team of scientists to return to Mongolia's Gobi desert in search of fossils since the legendary Roy Chapman Andrews, and he's been back every year since.

Dr. Novacek and his team have made numerous discoveries in the Gobi over the years. During the expedition's third trip into the desert in 1993, team stumbled upon one of the richest "Cretaceous fossil vertebrate sites" ever discovered. In just the first few hours, over 60 fossils of dinosaurs, mammals and other vertebrates were found.

In the video above, Mike talks about what inspired him to get into paleontology as a kid. And if you've got questions about Dr. Novacek's past or present expeditions, he will be answering questions from 1:30PM EDT until 2PM EDT.


What Was It is a series of short interviews co-hosted on Gizmodo and io9 that asks the luminaries of science and technology what inspired them.