David Hurst Thomas

As an Eagle Scout, David Hurst Thomas was always on the lookout for ancient Indian camps. He never found one as a kid, but he got his chance when he grew up. Dave became an archaeologist, a scientist who studies past cultures from the materials they left behind. He has made some amazing discoveries, such as the Gatecliff Shelter in Nevada, the deepest rock shelter known in the Americas. He also found the buried Spanish mission of Santa Catalina de Guale on Georgia’s coast, lost for more than 300 years.

Hometown: Oakland, California

Education: Ph.D., University of California at Davis

Job: Curator of North American Archaeology at the American Museum of Natural History

Known for: Studying Native American sites and colonial missions in the Southwest and Southeast United States; founding trustee at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

Favorite Artifact in the Museum: 63-foot long Native American “Great Canoe” (This was the first Museum artifact ever shown on a U.S. postage stamp!)

Cool Fact: Sixty years after he received the Boy Scout merit badge for Indian lore, Dave now writes the book of instructions showing modern Scouts how to receive the same award.

Image credits: © D.Thomas; © AMNH; © AMNH.