5 Questions with a Smithsonian Paleontologist

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey sits down with Dr. Michael Brett-Surman, Museum Specialist for Dinosaurs and other Fossil Reptiles at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

Zoey has gone through several phases regarding the “what I want to be when I grow up” question. Currently, she’s all about being a paleontologist. When she was 3, she could name more dinosaurs than she could name months of the year. She knew at least 10. (Let’s give credit where credit is due: much of that is thanks to Dinosaur Train.)

She recently came home from preschool with one of those “all about me” posters. On it, she included this:

If you can’t tell, the picture is of her kneeling in the dirt, digging up dinosaur bones. We live in suburban DC, so we’re fortunate to have the Smithsonian in our backyard.

We’re regular visitors of the National Museum of Natural History, despite the sometimes oppressive crowds. The dinosaur bones and fossils are just some of the wonderful treasures on display there. And like most kids, the Roarbots love this place.

It was therefore a sad day a few weeks ago when the entire Dinosaur Hall closed for renovations. Until 2019, at which time it’ll be reborn as the 31,000-square-foot National Fossil Hall.

The brand-new exhibit space promises to be much better than what’s there now, and the centerpiece will be the Nation’s T-Rex — a nearly complete T-Rex skeleton, which is currently on temporary display in pieces (as Smithsonian staff studies, conserves, and scans every piece) for visitors to admire.

Still, it’ll be five long years we have to wait. By which time Zoey will be 10 (unfathomable to me at this point).

So, without further ado, here is Zoey’s interview with Dr. Brett-Surman, Smithsonian paleontologist. As always, all questions are hers. I simply prompted her when she blanked. (Make sure you turn on subtitles if you can’t make out Zoey’s questions.)

Thank you very much to Dr. Brett-Surman, the National Museum of Natural History’s Department of Paleobiology, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.