Sasha Aronson, a 6th grader from New Jersey, got a chance to interview Matthew Berger, the
discoverer of the first piece of sediba at his home in South Africa. Here's the interview as Sasha
wrote it up for his school newspaper.
If you have followed the story of Sediba, the 1.97 million year old hominid skeletons that were recently found in
South Africa, you know that Matthew Berger, then 9, made the initial and crucial discovery. About a month ago
when my dad. Marc Aronson, and I visited the Bergers, I interviewed Matthew, after spending the day with him and
his very Hogwarts, English-prep-school, school. Here, is that Q and A:
As background, Matthew found a rock and noticed something unusual in it. "Dad," he called out, "I've found a fossil."
Q: How did you know it was a fossil?
A: From a young age my dad taught me what they looked like and their color. It was a yellow-white color in the rock,
and then I knew it was a fossil, or limestone.
(The bone in the rock was a clavicle -- a bone which is so thin and fragile it had never been recovered from an
ancient skeleton, but which Dr. Berger happened to have written his doctoral dissertation about)
Q: Did you know it was a clavicle at first?
A: No, because you normally get antelope fossils, but I wasn't sure what it was.
Q Was this your first fossil find?
Q: Was it an advantage for you that your dad studies these things?
A: Definitely, because I wouldn't have known what a fossil looked like otherwise.
Q Were you with anyone or anything when you found it?
A: I was with a guardian dog, Tau.
Q: Did you think/know if your dad would believe it was something important?
A: I inferred from his expression, "Oh, this is just another antelope fossil, I'll just please my son anyway."
Q: Were you surprised that you found something so major?
A: Yes, I was surprised.
Q: Were there reports and headlines for you?
A: Yes, lots of reporters and I also got my name and picture on the front page of the New York Times, I was on TV,
radio, and magazines.
Q: Did you feel overwhelmed by the media?
A: When they announced the discovery, I got very nervous.
Posted May 13th 2012
If you have had the chance to meet a famous scientist or explorer and want your encounter or
interview to appear here, just email it to us at Scimania@gmail.com and we might just post it here!