Script for
Dino Magic

This slideshow is designed for lower primary, but can be used with multiple age groups.  It looks at evidence found by paleontologist and how they interpret the data to come out with models.  As new data is found, it either fits into the model or you have to expand the model to incorporate new evidence.     “Going Back through Time with Dinosaurs” accompanies this slideshow and goes over the timing of events during the Mesozoic.

Slide 1.

·       What is wrong with this picture? Take all answers. Find out what they know about dinosaurs (time period, kind of dinosaur, etc.) Ask them if they know what type of scientist studies fossils/dinosaurs. Paleontologist.   (Paleo means old; onto means life; and ologist means a person who studies)

·       Ask them what is wrong with this picture? Caveman and dinosaurs did not live together. Also grass was not around with the dinosaurs.

·       Dinosaurs lived during the Mesozoic (Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous)

·       Present is Key to the Past. What does this mean? This means that knowing about today’s animals help us to determine the past. Many students know more than they think when they see a fossil if they are familiar with today’s animals.

Slide 2:

·       What’s wrong with this picture?  Allow student to discover misconceptions, most importantly: dinosaurs and humans did not live at the same time!  Dinosaurs also did not teach like humans. Cavemen and mammoths did not live in the same era, so the dinosaur teacher would not be showing those pictures even if they could teach!

Slide 3:  

·       What’s wrong with this picture? Who is this character? (Fred Flintstone) Here we are trying to emphasize color. We do not know the real color of dinosaurs, skin is not preserved, but since we know about present day animals, we can make correlations that they probably had similar colors because of environment.

·       The Present is Key to the Past.  Present day animals can help us determine extinct animals?  Are there purple elephants running around?


Slide 4.

·       What is the largest animal living on earth? Read the question twice. Most students will say the brown dinosaur is the biggest. You can go over each animal and play a game with them about which one they think is the biggest. The Blue Whale is the biggest (in overall weight and length), because it is still living.

·       Have students imagine if a whale was walking on lands. The marine environment helps to support the weight.

·       Dinosaurs are extinct.  Long neck group of dinosaurs were the largest of the dinosaurs.  Notice that Tyrannosaurus rex is only a little larger than today’s elephant.

·       Compared to humans, many dinosaurs were larger.   However, there were other smaller dinosaurs that roamed the Earth.

·       A stegosaurus and human could not have lived together.  Also grass had not evolved while dinosaurs were on earth.


Slide 5.

·       Animals on earth are sorted by whether they have a backbone  or vertebrate (which refers to the bony component.  The spine is an interconnected complex of bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.    Paleontologists only have bones to interpret in many cases.

·       Tell the students that you will need to put each animal in the “zoo”. Go over what Aves and Pisces means, and ask the students if they know what an amphibian, reptile and mammal is. Ask for animal examples from each table. After sliding the animals over to the right box, ask why the dinosaur has no place to go? Dinosaurs are is extinct, too big, zoos were not invented back then, etc.

·       You can ask what all the animals have in common (a backbone). They will need help with this. Get Charlie the skeleton (or any skeleton) and point out the backbone. You can also use Charlie to show the similarities between cow bones and the human bones. This is also a good opportunity to bring up the present is the key to the past. Ex. How do we know this was a shoulder bone? It looks similar to that of other animals. If we see a fossil that looks like this, we can say that it is also a shoulder bone. 

·       Go through each group and ask questions to point out the differences.

                    How does each group have babies? 

                              Fish and amphibians lay eggs in water
                              Reptiles and birds lay eggs on land (some reptiles have live birth, but it is best not to go into that for the younger students)
                              Mammals (most) do not lay eggs, they have live birth

You can also point out that there were dinosaurs that were mammal-like, bird-like and reptile- like. No dinosaurs were fish-like, dinosaurs lived on land.

Slide 6.

·       Play the video of the first time they found eggs in China in the 1950s.

·       Remind the students of the Maiasaurus they saw as a model.  This is how they knew they were duck billed. They were able to see the bones in x-rays.

·       Dinosaur nest and eggs. We know that some dinosaurs are reptiles because they laid eggs. Ask the students to name other reptiles: turtle, snake, alligator crocodiles and lizards.

·       How did these get preserved. A volcanic eruption covered the nests and when uncovered the eggs were in groups.

Slide 7.

·       During this slide you can talk about how we use bones to imagine  what the dinosaur looked like. Artists can look at the bones and how they fit together and create models/pictures/figures.

·       This is also done by comparing the dinosaur bones to modern bones (reiterate the present is key to the past).

·       When we find bones, usually they are not all in one piece; a paleontologist then tries to put it together, like a detective 

Slide 8. Stegosaurus

·       This animation shows a Stegosaurus that dies and then some of the bones are lost and scattered

·       If an animal is preyed on, the bones are travel for a long distance.

Slide 9. 

·       Everyone loves digging dinosaurs that get buried through different geological processes.  Volcanic ash could have buried them; landslides, or getting swept away in a flood.

·       Young children even like to dig for dinosaurs.  Just the joy of finding a piece of ancient animals is thrilling for both young and old.

·       One of the photos shows paleontologists working. Look at the tools and careful examination of gravels. This is what a real paleontologist looks like when they are working! The paleontologist is uncovering a large fossil? Of what?  Skull.  Point out the tools being used (hammers, scoops, glue, small shovels, plaster, picks).  

Slide 10.  Dinosaur Bone

·       Go over what a fossil is. Original material replaced with minerals and chemicals when bones become buried. This turns the original material into stone. That is why some fossils are very heavy. This is a picture of a bone.

·       We know it is bone because  under the microscope you can see clues that tell you it is a bone.

Slide 11.  Composition of bones

·       A bone is living.  It needs to develop a way to use nutrients to make the bones grow and then to maintain their health.  All living vertebrate organisms  have pores so blood can move freely throughout the bones to provide nutrients.  

·       The enlargement is an x-ray showing the pores, the red and blue are arteries and veins.

Slide 12.

·       This animation shows a cross section of a bone.  Dinosaurs would have similar texture.

·       There are two types of texture of the bone.  The compact bone tissue is along the surface, more for protection and support.

·       The spongy bone is where the blood vessels go through

Slide 13.  How do you group dinosaurs?

·       It is difficult, when all you have are bones, that might be all over the site.

·       Every dinosaur pelvis has a paired pubis, ilium, and ischium

·       A saurischian pelvis has a forward-sloping pubis. The broad pubic “foot” is specific to certain predatory dinosaurs.

·       An ornithischian dinosaur has a backward-sloping pubis.

·       It is not always obvious what kind of pelvis a dinosaur has. 

·       Slides 14-16 looks at 3 different species and how artist interpret them.  There were no cameras during the Mesozoic so an artist interprets what the animal may have looked like.  Some paleo-artists are better than others.  Present is Key to Past, so need to look at living animals that might be similar. 

Slide 14.  Ornithiscians - Parasaurolophus  

·       long, distinctive, backward-curving crest

·       herbivorous ornithopod dinosaur that lived during during the Late Cretaceous Period

·       walked both as a biped and as a quadruped

·       duck billed dinosaur

Slide 15.  Theropods - Ornitholestes

·       A small theropod dinosaur that was built for speed and agility rather than strength and brute force.

·       The lower leg bones are thought to have been slightly shorter than the femur, something that is contrary to other fast running dinosaurs.

·       This might indicate that while Ornitholestes was a lightweight reasonably fast theropod, it was not suited to chasing other small bipedal dinosaurs.

·       Up to half of the total body length was made up of the tail which would have served as a balancing aid.

Slide 16.   Sauropods - Brachiosaurus

·       Brachiosaurus was an unusual dinosaur that lived 155.7 million to 150.8 million years ago during the mid- to late Jurassic Period.

·       Specimens have been found primarily in the fossil-rich Morrison Formation in North America, but the dinosaur did not resemble any of the others that roamed the region.

·       Its long neck made it look like a giraffe, and its forelegs were longer than its hind legs.

·       Look at the artist concept, ask your students which one do they think is best or not.

Slide 17.  Classification

·       Look at slide and notice that in one classification they place the theropods with the saurichians but in other they put with a revised name ornithocelidans

·       Some paleontologists question the hips being the only grouping, and some scientist want to open the classification up

·       However, do we know enough yet about how to group.  Not really, there are many fossil sites being uncovered that change how we see dinosaur groups

Slide 18.   Bones reveal “Secrets”

·       Sometimes you only find part of a dinosaur and you can make an educated guess on what it is

·       Classical mistake is the naming of brontosaurus by O. C. Marsh (Peabody Museum, Yale) and his rivalry with  E.D. Cope (also of Yale). In the latter part of 1800’s.  They were part of the Bone Wars, a media circus to find as many fossils in the west and name them.  There seems to be a naming of different bones as one brontosaurus, which it seems it was not.  Remember there were not many photos taken, or even  a full understanding of the geology of the area.  So, brontosaurus is not considered as a valid name.

·       These pictures show parts of a dinosaur. 

Slide 19.

·       How do we know what dinosaurs sounded like? We don’t know for sure. But we do know what present day reptiles sound like so we compare the features of present day reptiles with those of dinosaurs and make educated guesses as to what the dinosaurs could have sounded like.

·       Dr. Jack Horner, a noted dinosaur specialist was asked to create the sounds of T. rex for Jurassic Park.  He looked at the muscles pattern from bones and came up with this familiar sound.  

Slide 20. Footprints

·       Footprints are what we refer to as “Trace Fossils.”  A fossil that shows activity of an animal, but very difficult to give it a species name.  Where bones are real fossils of the animal.

·       You can tell how fast the animals is going; get a sense of the weight; whether it is 2 or 4 legged; whether it lives in a herd; if there were little ones.

·       Usually found in rock that was once mud or muddy sand. 

Slide 21. Camarasaurus

·       Let this run a couple of times. Discuss the leaving of footprints and poop. This demonstrates the significance of other types of fossils, trace fossils.

·       Footprints are also important.  If you find large prints with small prints, you can assume that a mommy and baby were walking together.  You can tell if they are running or walking; on two feet or 4 feet; and even how heavy they were.

·       Not every dinosaur becomes a fossil, but we can still learn about them and their behaviors based on other things they leave behind (tracks, excrement). Students may think it is gross, but it is very important!

Slide 22.

·       Dr. Karen Chin looking at fossil coprolites (fossil poop). She is a world authority from the Denver Natural History Museum. She looks at the coprolites under the microscope and can see if the dinosaur is a herbivore or carnivore 

·       Ask students what kind of information they think she can get from the coprolites? She can tell the kind of dinosaur, what they ate, and the environment.  How large an animal may have been.  For example, can you tell the difference between a Great Dane and a small Dog.

Slide 23.

·       Last slide helps you to remind students that fossils only give us a quick look into the lives of extinct animals.

·       Things like crying, smiling, talking, and even peeing cannot be preserved in the fossil record.