MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
It is painful to admit, but sometimes on this program, we fall short. We fail to spend enough time considering all the things. Case in point - let us ask a listener to read aloud a letter he recently sent us.
LEO SHIDLA: (Reading) My name is Leo, and I'm 8 years old. I listen to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED in the car with mom. I never hear much about nature or dinosaurs or things like that. Maybe you should call your show Newsy Things Considered since I don't get to hear about all the things, or please talk more about dinosaurs and cool things. Sincerely, Leo.
KELLY: Leo Shidla of Minneapolis, you've got a point. We looked. This program is about to turn 50 years old, and our library tells us the word dinosaur has been part of a story on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED only 294 times. By comparison, we looked, and the word senator has appeared in 20,447 pieces. I'm actually surprised it's not more. So we think it might be time to shake things up.
KELLY: Thank you for writing to us. What's your favorite dinosaur?
LEO: Concavenator. It's basically a mini T. rex with a sail (ph), kind of.
KELLY: Wow, I'm learning things already. Well, we have an introduction to make - from the San Diego Natural History Museum, Ashley Poust.
ASHLEY POUST: Hi. How's it going? Hi, Leo.
KELLY: I'm so glad to be able to connect you two because, Leo, can I start by just saying I hear from your parents that you want to be a paleontologist when you grow up? And now we've got one on the line for you.
KELLY: (Laughter) So let me let you ask a question. What's your top question that you want to put to Ashley Poust about dinosaurs?
LEO: What is your favorite part of the job? And have you discovered a dinosaur?
POUST: Well, the thing that's the coolest for me is discovery.
LEO: Have you discovered a dinosaur?
POUST: I have. I hope to find many more in the future, but I've been able to name a few really cool fossil animals. I recently named a dinosaur Wulong, from China, and that was discovered by farmers.
KELLY: Anything you want to know about your favorite dinosaur?
LEO: Sure. How large was Concavenator?
POUST: Concavenator itself - it's a little smaller than, say, your T. rex or your Spinosaurus. A really tall person might have been able to look it in the eye. But if it reared up, it could easily shadow you, and it would be really scary.
LEO: How did dinosaurs grow to be so big? And why aren't humans and mammals the size of dinosaurs today?
POUST: I love this question. This is hard-hitting journalism 'cause these are the types of questions that keep paleontologists up at night. One thing is that dinosaurs are built different. They have weird bones compared to mammals. Giant longneck dinosaurs, sauropods, actually have huge holes that are filled with potentially airlike sacs. And so that lightens their bodies and maybe gives them structural strength.
They also grow different. And so mammals, of course, don't come from eggs. We have to raise them, and we're famously dependent on our parents. Maybe dinosaurs could lay lots of eggs and leave them and go lay lots of eggs somewhere else. They also grew really quickly. And so maybe they're able to grow to these enormous sizes by being pretty active. And that's one of my favorite areas of research.
So they were built different. They grow different. But maybe they're not that different. Mammals get pretty big. Whales that are alive today are as big as anything the dinosaurs ever produced. And so don't sleep on whales.
KELLY: Well, that's Ashley Poust of the San Diego Natural History Museum sharing his expertise and our 8-year-old listener Leo Shidla of Minneapolis.
Thanks to you, Leo, I think we're now up to 295 dinosaur stories. So thanks so much to you both and, Leo, especially to you. Thanks for writing.
LEO: You're welcome.
POUST: Thanks for having me on.
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