“Dr. Scott the Paleontologist” Really Digs Dinosaurs!


It was a pleasure to interview “Dr.

It was a pleasure to interview “Dr. Scott the Paleontologist” from PBS children’s series Dinosaur Train (produced by the Jim Henson Company) and host of Discovery Channel series Dinosaur Planet.  By the age of 5 years old, Dr. Scott Sampson knew that he would be a doctor of paleontology and mentioned, “I got to do what I wanted to do. ”  Since he studied dinosaurs and was was featured in several documentaries, he was approached by PBS for the Dinosaur Train show.  At first he thought it was unusual to combine dinosaurs with trains but then again, they were so popular with kids that they went together “like chocolate and peanut butter!”  The funniest blooper that ever happened when filming Dinosaur Train was when he was filming special effects of “swimming under water. ” He was in front of the green screen and lying on a box pretending to swim and fell off!  


The most unusual place that he conducted fieldwork was in   Madagascar.  This was actually his favorite place to visit because of its remote, exotic with incredible scenery and wonderful culture.  The most interesting fossil he’s ever found was in Madagascar too.  Serrated teeth of dinosaurs were commonly found but he then found tailbones on hill!  He followed them and came across skull of a carnivorous dinosaur!  Most dinosaur fossils have been found in Western Colorado!  Other top places to find dinosaur fossils are in China and Argentina. 


The core of his current research is at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument where 20 new dinosaurs were found!  Some of these dinosaurs haven’t even been named yet!  One is an armored dinosaur!  Dinosaurs are named after people and places.   One was even named after the lead singer of the Dire Straits rock band because that music was playing while excavating the fossils!!  A colleague even named one after Dr. Scott!


The most challenging job he’s ever had is his current one at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where about 100 things are going on at museum at once and he needs to make lots of decisions about them! His favorite thing to do when he’s not working are hiking, camping and spending time with his wife and daughter.  Reading and photography are also his favorites. The most exciting and fun parts of his job are talking to kids.  Speaking to groups of kids around the country and getting kids interested in being scientists makes his job very rewarding.


Dr. Scott is also a writer!  Dinosaur Odyssey took him 5 years to write!  He plans on writing children’s books as well.  One is about digging dinosaurs and the other is to encourage kids to get outside and into nature.  He feels that today, kids aren’t spending enough time outside.  They’re mostly looking at screens.  He mentioned that getting outside is healthy for the body and mind and helps kids to become way more creative.  Dr. Scott hopes to spread this message:   “Get outside, get into nature, and make your own discoveries!”