"A long-lost legend is found...
Will is a skybax rider, one of the elite couriers of Dinotopia, a land apart from time where humans and dinosaurs coexist in harmony. Protected for centuries by raging currents that wreck any ship that comes too close to its shores, this strange land is cut off from the outside world. When headstrong Sylvia disappears in search of the legendary Hand of Dinotopia, a landmark that points toward clear sea passage to and from the island, Will follows her, accompanied by his four-footed Protoceratops companion, Chaz. Their quest for the Hand takes them to a startling destination where they're met with a choice as unexpected as the journey."
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After receiving a message that his fiance Sylvia is missing, Will goes to Sauropolis in an attempt to persuade officials to launch a rescue expedition to find her. When he is unable to convince the officials, he heads to Canyon City, Slyvia's last known location, to try to find her himself. Will is able to receive a tip that Sylvia has gone into the Great Desert on her own. Before he can continue his search for him, he is stopped and taken back to Canyon City. There, city officials, while still unwilling to launch an expedition, assign the Chaz to accompany him as a translator.
Will and Chaz venture into the Great Desert and are picked up by the nomadic Orofani. They are reunited with Sylvia, who was picked up by the tribe as well. After sneaking away from the Orofani, Sylvia reveals the reason she had gone into the Great Desert. She had learned from researching in Waterfall City's library of the Hand of Dinotopia, a legendary pointer to a safe sea route to and from Dinotopia, and convinces Will and Chaz to join her in her quest.
They journey through the desert until they discover the ruins of Ahmet-Padon, an ancient city. In the city they find a map that points to a location in the mountains of the Outer Island. The group sets forth once again, headed for the coast with supplies running low. They stop and refill their supplies at a bush of Jova beans they find mysteriously growing in the middle of the desert. The next morning they are awakened by Khorip, the Pachycephalosaurus who grew the Jova beans. Khorip is coincidentally searching for the Hand of Dinotopia as well, and joins the trio.
After escaping from a pack of uncivilized Dilophosaurus and a flash flood that washes away the majority of their supplies, the group comes across a caravan that takes them to Hardshell where Chaz leaves the group to return to Canyon City. Will, Sylvia and Khorip board a barge that will take them to Culebra, and Chaz returns at the last moment, curious to see if the Hand of Dinotopia really exists. The barge is nearly sunk by a Megalodon and makes it to Culebra.
The group accompanies a fruit expedition into the rainforest to find a road leading to the ruins marked by the map in Ahmet-Padon and leaves the caravan behind. After the road leads to a dead end, they encounter a Deinonychus tribe lead by Korut, who agrees to take them to the ruins if they teach the tribe how to fish. Sylvia teaches the Deinonychus how to weave nets and catch fish and after a feast with their catch, they head to the ruins. The raptors and the travelers reach and enter the ruins where they discover a map pointing to an island to the northeast of the Dinotopian mainland.
Korut and the rest of the tribe members join Will, Sylvia, Khorip and Chaz and take a beached boat to the island. On the island, the expedition finds a cave containing a relief depicting an ancient war fought between the Dinotopians and outside invaders who had landed on the Outer Island. The invaders were eventually driven back and city on the Outer Island was abandoned as the inhabitants left to escape the memory of war. It is speculated that Korut and his tribe are the descendants of saurians who stayed behind.
Encouraged by the relief that proves it is possible to enter and leave Dinotopia safely, Sylvia activates a mechanism that causes the three mountain peaks on the island to move, forming a theropod hand that points to the sea passage in and out of Dinotopia. Satisfied at their discover, Will and Sylvia sail back to the mainland to rest after their adventure.