Trix the T. Rex

Naturalis, Natural History Museum in Leiden, commissioned me to document the preparation of the Tyrannosaurus Rex they recently acquired for the exhibition's catalog. Meet Trix: an impressive old female who, from the looks of her bones, lived a turbulent life. She is one of the three most complete T. Rexes ever found, and the first one to be owned outside the United States. 

In Hill City, South Dakota, I documented the preparation of her massive skeleton, and with Marijke Besselink, the book's writer, I drove out to the middle of nowhere, Montana, to see where she was found. Along the way, we met and talked with all the people involved in getting her out of the ground—it was an incredible privilege to see this operation up close. 

TRIX will be on display at Naturalis natural history museum in Leiden from September 10. 


This slideshow shows the preparation of the bones at the Black Hill geological institute in Hill City, South Dakota. Spending time with the paleontologists, I learned so much, and dinosaur bones forever earned a place in my heart. As it turns out, finding dino bones is a lot less straightforward than I thought: through erosion, bones come to the surface all the time. All of a sudden, skeletons kept in perfect condition for millions of years are once again exposed to the elements. Getting wet, freezing, and thawing, cause fragile bones to shatter. One day, you might walk on the land and find nothing at all. The next, you might find one of the biggest T. Rexes ever found. Get there too late, and she's gone. Hunting dinos is a slow but true thrill ride.

Trix is preserved with care: after taking samples for research, her bones are cleaned, saturated with protective glue and mounted for display. Replicas are made to fill in the gaps. 3D scans are made of each bone to ensure that everyone in the world can have access to the information: schools across the world could make 3D-printed replicas, and scientists everywhere can do further research. 

The slideshow below shows our travels to Jordan, Montana, and further inland to the remote Black Angus ranch where TRIX was found. Never did I feel so far removed from the rest of the world, not even in the depths of the Amazon. Walking around the site, it was surreal to imagine the dinosaurs that roamed here in great numbers 66 million years ago. Within minutes, we stumbled upon bone fragments. Blaine Lunstad, who found TRIX, can be seen digging: he couldn't go five minutes without getting down in the dirt, and quickly came up with a shard of a Triceratops neck frill. He has a love/hate relationship with the cows when it comes to fossil hunting: cows love to chew on the bones, so their trails can lead you to great sites, but they're just as likely to trample them. Also featured are lucky land owner Lige Murray, and local bone hunter Clayton Phipps, also known as the Dino Cowboy. 

Animalia Amsterdam

 
 

It's official! This coming year, I will be Amsterdam's dedicated animal photographer. 

The Amsterdam City Archive has commissioned me to continue my most recent project, Animalia Amsterdam, in their name. For one full year, my efforts will be dedicated to photographing companion animals and their caretakers from all walks of life.

It's a pleasure to reconnect with my hometown and the creatures that live here, and I take great pride in seeing this project become part of our local history. The animals that live alongside people in this city have been grossly underrepresented in our annals, and I will be working hard to change that.

If you have a pet and would like to participate in this project, please click here for more info.

AYAHUASCA

In eight short episodes, I share the incredible tale of Joana, who exchanged her life in the city for the Amazon, and take you along on my experience with tribal life. Read the final episode here!

(8/8)

"Before I traveled to the Amazon, I’d been told ayahuasca was used as a ceremonial drug, but never looked up what it entailed: if I was going to participate in any rituals, I’d rather do it without knowing too much about them. I had no clue that ayahuasca is apparently all the rage in Europe—people pay a great deal of money to participate in these rites. Supposedly, it makes you vomit and understand your place in the universe. But here in Acre, I have no idea what’s ahead of me."

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ON MOTHERHOOD

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In eight short episodes, I share the incredible tale of Joana, who exchanged her life in the city for the Amazon, and take you along on my experience with tribal life. Stay tuned for all episodes!

(7/8)

"I learn that village life offers Joana one more advantage besides fresh air and financial unburdening: raising her children in a community. A Nukini mother is rarely alone. In fact, no one here gets to be alone much. Homes are communal spaces, and there is no real privacy to speak of. Joana isn’t bothered by this. “I have my room,” she says, “If a neighbor comes calling when I want to be alone, I just keep my mouth shut and pretend I’m not home.”

The mothers I meet are not visibly stressed; a crying child is a rarity. No one is cooped up indoors. Instead, children run free, unsupervised, expending their energy, developing their independence. Older siblings take care of the younger ones. When the 14-year-old Rivaldo stays home alone for a few days, he not only cooks and cleans, but sets out the fishing nets and provides for himself."

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RIVER CREATURES

In eight short episodes, I share the incredible tale of Joana, who exchanged her life in the city for the Amazon, and take you along on my experience with tribal life. Stay tuned for all episodes!

(6/8)

"The Moa river is far more than a source of food and water; Nukini life is centered around it. The river is our road to the outside world. It's where we bathe, where we play, where we wash away our troubles. Nine-year-old Isaac teaches me how to play frogs and crocodiles, and we keep it up for hours on end.

Whenever I feel overwhelmed or tired, being in the water improves my mood, drastically—even if I’m just doing the dishes. Sitting in the cool mud, surrounded by ducklings scavenging for leftovers, I scrub the pots and watch the glistening suds float away, along with my thoughts."

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SWEET TOOTH

In eight short episodes, I share the incredible tale of Joana, who exchanged her life in the city for the Amazon, and take you along on my experience with tribal life. Stay tuned for all episodes!

(5/8)

"Their ideas about what is considered healthy are different from ours, and based on what is locally available. Bananas accompany at least half of our meals, but surprisingly, they eat no green vegetables. And I don’t mean few—I mean none.

The people I speak with believe in the health benefits of a traditional diet. There is one aspect of city life they find particularly intolerable: you can only get “bad meat, full of hormones and chemicals,” and the foods don’t “make you strong” like those grown on local soil. When our neighbor Paula soothes my unrelenting stomach ache with a tea of dried orange peel, I learn about their extensive knowledge of plant-based medicine."

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JUNGLE EATS

In eight short episodes, I share the incredible tale of Joana, who exchanged her life in the city for the Amazon, and take you along on my experience with tribal life. Stay tuned for all episodes!

4/8

"Living with the Nukini means my focus in life becomes food. Food keeps them occupied—day in and day out. They garden, gather, hunt, fish, cook, eat and repeat. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m not borderline insane for thinking about food all day, and it feels like coming home.

We eat between four and eight small meals a day, which consist mostly of unadorned ingredients, cooked simply until done. Animals are either grilled over a wood fire, or boiled and served in the resulting broth with a squeeze of lime—a nourishing delight."

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JUNGLE NIGHTS

In eight short episodes, I share the incredible tale of Joana, who exchanged her life in the city for the Amazon, and take you along on my experience with tribal life. Stay tuned for all episodes!

3/8

"It takes me a week, five flights, and a ten-hour boat ride to reach the Nukini village. Finally, the boat pulls up to Joana’s riverside home and I try to stand—my legs barely allow it. The family’s house is open and spacious and permanently surrounded by mottled ducklings and scrawny chickens. In every direction, the view is green: olive green, emerald green, sea green, pea green, chartreuse, sage. I can only just make out the neighbors past the gardens."

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HOW PEDRO FELL IN LOVE WITH A CITY GIRL

In eight short episodes, I share the incredible tale of Joana, who exchanged her life in the city for the Amazon, and take you along on my experience with tribal life. Stay tuned for all episodes!

2/8

"So how do a cosmopolitan scientist and a hunter-gatherer fall in love? The courtship was surprisingly straightforward. They’d visit waterfalls together, he gave her a flower, he even presented her with a little wild pig."

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FROM CITY TO JUNGLE: THE STORY OF JOANA

Meet Joana, the young woman from Rio de Janeiro who left her life in the city in exchange for the jungle. It was her baffling story that led me to the Amazon, where I would learn about life with the Nukini tribe over the past summer.

1/8

"Rio de Janeiro is a city caught between water and rock, a place where nature and concrete violently compete for space. Sleek modern architecture lines the streets, ramshackle homes erupt along the mountainsides, roots and leaves creep through any crevice they can find. Together they form an organically shaped beast, breathing and pulsing in the sweltering heat. This is where Joana grew up—on the very streets where I spent childhood summers with my grandmother. "

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VOLKSKRANT MAGAZINE

Today in Volkskrant Magazine, these and many more images from my recent trip to the Amazon. Over the next few days, the stories behind these photos will be published here. I'll tell the incredible story of Joana, who exchanged a life in the city for the jungle, give you a blow-by-blow of a proper jungle diet, take you along on a mind-bending drug trip, and explain how enjoying the hospitality of kind-hearted strangers changed my perspective on life. Stay tuned!

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FOTOKRONIEK: AMAZON TALK

For those who are curious about my recent adventures in the Amazon: next Tuesday I'll be giving a talk about my project Isabella Hunts with a focus on my time with the native Brazilians, for Fotokroniek at Pakhuis de Zwijger. We'll talk about life, love and nausea in the jungle, and viewing new, unpublished work.

Start time: 20:00 / Duration: 1 hour inc. time for Q&A / Language: English / Entrance fee: €5 / reserve tickets here / Location: Pakhuis de Zwijger

VRIJ NEDERLAND SUMMER SPECIAL

For Vrij Nederland's summer issue we shot a series about the recent efforts that are made to save the black-tailed godwit, or grutto. This famous Dutch meadow bird's numbers have been dwindling at an alarming rate due to the destruction of their habitat. Scientists, government, businesses, and farmers are coming together to reverse the process, but the task ahead is daunting at best.