Sawyer and Matt: Paleontologists


By: Teresa Dietrich

Sawyer perched on his dinosaur themed bed, tyrannosaurus rex mask hung above him, his early enthusiasm for meeting paleontologist Matt much more subdued now that he was actually being introduced. But we knew that despite this he would warm up. Sawyer is in general an energetic and enthusiastic kid, and a great deal of his enthusiasm is directed towards dinosaurs and all things prehistoric. When presented with the career question, Sawyer had his answer instantly: when he grows up he wants to be a paleontologist.

The presence of a professional can often leave kids reserved and unsure of themselves, and for the first fifteen minutes Sawyer spent a lot of time looking down at his Jurassic Park shirt or listening as Matt tossed out facts about fossils and dinosaurs. Eventually, Matt presented Sawyer with an obscure fact involving ancient reptile family trees. Sawyer immediately leapt into the conversation, his earlier reticence dissipated by his joy in confirming that he not only knew that particular fact already, but had several of his own he’d like to share.

The two discussed events from millenia ago as though they were as familiar as yesterday’s news. Matt shared some of his discoveries with Sawyer, including the 72 million year old vertebrae of a megalodon, one of Sawyer’s favorite prehistoric animals. Sawyer carefully held the vertebrae; cradling a little bit of prehistory in his small hands, the childlike joy that had originally been hidden shone through.

During the course of their conversation, Matt revealed that every year new prehistoric species are discovered and more sites are scheduled for digging. So, he explained, there will be plenty left to discover by the time Sawyer’s old enough to be a paleontologist. By the time Matt left, Sawyer was glowing with new knowledge and the promise of a trip to the Museum of Natural History.

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