Juanito Rostagno is a Costa Rican geologist and proprietor of at least one amber mine in the Dominican Republic, Mano de Dios. This mine is notable for being one of the Dominican Republic’s only Mesozoic-era amber sites; most amber from this country is from the Cenozoic era.
During the 1990s, Rostagno was contracted by International Genetic Technologies, Inc. as a source of Mesozoic amber. As a result, Rostagno was marginally involved with the Jurassic Park project, though he is not known to have ever visited Isla Nublar.
“Juanito” is a nickname meaning “little Juan,” but can also be a given name. Both names are Spanish in origin; Juan is the Spanish version of the name John, which is ultimately derived from a Hebrew name meaning “God is gracious.” The surname Rostagno is Italian in origin, suggesting that Juanito Rostagno is of mixed heritage. Rostagno is most likely derived from the given name Rostagnus, which was Latinized from Old High German during the Middle Ages and consists of Proto-Germanic words meaning “fame” and “stone,” respectively.
Rostagno’s exact place and date of birth is unknown, but he was “thirty-ish” in 1993. This would mean that he was born sometime around 1963. He is said to be ethnically Costa Rican, so he was most likely born within the country of Costa Rica.
Most of his early life is undisclosed.
As an adult in the 1990s, Rostagno was a geologist working in the amber mines of the Dominican Republic and had become the proprietor of the Mano de Dios mine. Amber is one of the major exports of the Dominican Republic, often being used in jewelry; however, Rostagno’s proprietorship of Mano de Dios allowed him access to Mesozoic amber, which is otherwise unknown in the Dominican Republic. Likely because of this, Rostagno was acquainted with well-known paleontologists such as Dr. Alan Grant.
By 1993, Rostagno’s mine operation was contracted by International Genetics Technologies, Inc. as a source of amber containing mosquitoes and other blood-drinking invertebrates. He was personally familiar with InGen’s CEO, Dr. John P. A. Hammond, and was to some degree aware of InGen’s plans to build a theme park on an isolated Costa Rican island involving Mesozoic paleo-DNA. It is unknown how much Rostagno actually knew about Jurassic Park, though it appears he was aware of de-extinction as fact by June of 1993.
1993 Isla Nublar incidents
Rostagno’s geology career was impacted by several incidents that occurred in June of 1993. During the first week of the month, an InGen worker on Isla Nublar was mauled to death by a Velociraptor; this raised serious safety concerns among InGen’s Board of Directors. Hammond planned to meet with Rostagno at the Mano de Dios mine, along with legal consultant Donald Gennaro. However, Hammond did not show; his daughter was undergoing a divorce at the time and he had opted to spend that day with his family. Hammond made Rostagno aware that he would not be coming, but had not informed Gennaro.
Gennaro arrived as planned, expecting to see Hammond; instead, he was only able to meet with Rostagno, who showed Gennaro the mining operation. Gennaro informed Rostagno that Hammond, at the Board’s request, was planning on bringing Dr. Alan Grant to the island for a professional endorsement. Rostagno was skeptical that Grant would leave Montana on such short notice, due to his dedication to his research.
However, Hammond was able to convince Grant to come to Isla Nublar, and the endorsement tour occurred on June 11, 1993. During the tour, the Park was left running on a skeleton crew for the weekend. While most of the staff were on the Costa Rican mainland, a disgruntled programmer sabotaged the Park’s computer system to steal trade secrets, which resulted in the escape of multiple de-extinct animals. In the ensuing two days, several InGen employees including Gennaro died, and the Park was deemed beyond recovery.
With InGen no longer seeking paleo-DNA, Rostagno would have lost one of his major clients. This would have severely impacted his business.
Rostagno’s later life is unknown, but beginning in 2002, InGen reattempted a de-extinction theme park on Isla Nublar under the wing of its new parent company, Masrani Global Corporation. The company spent $30.5 billion in U.S. currency in 2014 alone, operating amber and fossil dig sites around the globe. Mano de Dios, which had already proven useful to InGen in the past, may have been contracted again during Jurassic World‘s construction between 2002 and 2004 as well as its operational phase between 2005 and 2015.
Geology and paleontology
Rostagno is a respected geologist and operator of the only confirmed Mesozoic amber site in the Dominican Republic. However, he is more businessman than scientist, understanding the incredible value placed on amber in general and his rare type of amber in particular. Likely due to his exclusive access to the Dominican Republic’s Mesozoic fossil record, he is also familiar with internationally known paleontologists such as Dr. Alan Grant.
Rostagno is bilingual, fluent in both Spanish and English.
By the early 1990s, Rostagno was apparently aware of InGen’s efforts at de-extinction in Central America. He worked closely with John Hammond himself and was a major supplier of amber samples to InGen. Because of this close working relationship, Rostagno gave no outward objection to the idea of bringing back extinct species; de-extinction brought in business for him, and so was a positive influence on his career.
Employees and coworkers
At the Mano de Dios mine, Rostagno employed a fairly large number of workers. He showed appreciation for their hard labor, recognizing the value in the amber samples discovered by his team. It was common for his employees to refer to him casually as jefe, meaning “boss.”
During the early 1990s, Rostagno was contracted by InGen to retrieve Mesozoic amber samples from the mine he owned, Mano de Dios. He had met John Hammond and knew him personally, sympathizing with Hammond’s distaste for delays caused by safety inspections, and was understanding of Hammond’s choice to cancel their meeting in early June of 1993 in order to spend time with his daughter during her divorce.
When an InGen worker was killed on Isla Nublar in early June 1993, the Board of Directors enlisted legal representative Donald Gennaro to recruit a scientific consultant to endorse Jurassic Park. After getting mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm for the job, Gennaro was supposed to meet with Hammond and Rostagno at the Mano de Dios mine to discuss hiring paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, who the Board and Hammond agreed should be a consultant as well.
However, Hammond had opted to spend the day with his daughter to comfort her during her divorce instead. He had told Rostagno about this, but failed to inform Gennaro. Instead, Gennaro arrived at Mano de Dios to find only Rostagno and his team waiting for him. Rostango, like Hammond, was not fond of safety inspections; while Rostagno was friendly toward Gennaro during his visit, he was also dismissive of Gennaro’s concerns. One of Rostagno’s employees jokingly bet that Gennaro would trip and fall while walking up the hillside to the mine, which he did.