It all started with a walk.

When Matthew Berger, 9, was out with his father one summer day in 2008, he did what his dad always told him to do:

He kept his eyes on the ground – and observed closely.

That’s what led Matthew to an exciting discovery – for him and for scientists around the globe.

He spotted a strange-looking rock, brown with a yellow stripe running through it, sticking partly out of the dark soil near their home in Johannesburg in South Africa.

Matthew decided to look closer.

With his dad, paleontologist and scientist Dr. Lee R. Berger, a professor at the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Matthew examined the rock and the two made the exciting realization that the odd-looking rock was an important scientific find.

The “yellow” matter was actually bone – part of a clavicle from what scientists believe could be an ancient ancestor of human beings.

Starting with that one fossil find, scientists ultimately unearthed two complete skeletons at the site.

Lee Berger will come to Buffalo this weekend to talk about his discovery in a lecture that is open to the public. Joining him will be Marc Aronson, Berger’s co-author on a new book for readers age 10 and up about the fossil discovery.

According to Aronson, the lesson for everyone – especially kids – in the Bergers’ find is about possibilities.

“So many new things are still being found,” said Aronson. “Kids should be excited – not discouraged.”

“The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist, a Boy, and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins,” was released by National Geographic in September. It costs $19.

The free program is co-sponsored by the Penn-Dixie Paleontological & Outdoor Education Center; it will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the WNED studios, Lower Terrace Boulevard. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.

Aronson that the purpose of the book and Saturday’s talk is simple: it’s about inspiration, for a younger generation.

“We want young people to understand there is a whole world of discoveries and explorations around them,” he said.

Even in Western New York?

“That’s what’s exciting to me,” replied Aronson. “This can happen anywhere. Are we all going to find [human ancestor] bones? Not likely. But are we going to find something else? Absolutely.”

The Penn-Dixie/WNED event will be family-oriented activities, with fossil displays from Penn-Dixie, “Tilly the Trilobite,” displays by the Past and Present Rock Shop in Blasdell, and Dr. Don Birdd and his “Dienoncyhus” costume.

Although the morning program is free, registration is required. Go online at or call 1-800-344-9611, ext. 2023.

Berger and Aronson also will be at the Barnes & Noble bookseller store on Niagara Falls Boulevard on Saturday, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.