Rock Cycle - Past Life (KA)
Pre Lab 

  • Defining dinosaurs.
  • Exploring misconceptions about dinosaurs.
  • extinct
  • fossil
  • dinosaur

Students use a worksheet to compare the truth about dinosaurs.


Dinosaurs are fantasy creatures to children. Imagine real monsters that roamed the Earth at one time. No horror story could be more exciting. In contrast, "cute" commercial dinosaur toys and products are sometimes geared to sell to the public. It is your job as a teacher to make students aware of these misconceptions.

Here are some common misconceptions that you should discuss and correct with your students.

  1. Dinosaurs did not live with people. "Fred Flintstone" and "Dino" could not have really lived together. Dinosaurs disappeared more than 60 million years before humans appeared on Earth. Define dinosaurs very clearly as a group of extinct animals that lived on the Earth a long time ago. They were probably related to the reptiles and birds of today
  2. You cannot go into your backyard and pick up dinosaur bones. There are only a few good dinosaur localities in the United States, notably Utah and Montana.
  3. Dinosaurs were probably not all different colors. The colors probably ranged from green to brown to some shades of purple. Some dinosaurs may have even had feathers.
  4. Dinosaurs are not found with their skeletons intact. Most of the fossils are disarticulated (not together) bones. Usually many individual bones are missing from the reconstructed skeleton. It is difficult for paleontologists to reconstruct dinosaurs with only a few bones.
  5. Many dinosaurs were small. Dinosaurs are not the largest animals that ever lived. The Blue Whale which swims in today's ocean is the largest animal known to have lived on the Earth.
  6. Dinosaurs are extinct. Extinct means that all the individuals belonging to one type of plant or animal are dead. Once a group is extinct, it never reappears. The dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years. Your students will have difficulty grasping the magnitude of that many years (we all do), so just emphasize that dinosaurs have been extinct for a long, long time. Ask the class if they can think of any other animals or plants that are extinct. Woolly mammoths, saber-toothed cats, trilobites, and dodos are some possible answers.
  7. Most modern grasses and flowers were not on the Earth when the dinosaurs roamed it.
  8. The word "Dinosaur" actually refers to two major groups [Saurischia (lizard hipped) and Ornithischia (bird hipped)] of extinct animals that lived 65 through 230 million years ago.
  1. Explain to students that an important difference between modern reptiles and dinosaurs is that dinosaurs are now extinct. You may want to go over some of the other misconceptions discussed above.
  2. Use the "Dinosaur" slideshow to illustrate misconceptions of dinosaurs.  Use pages 1-4 to help illustrate what is wrong with the pictures.  On page 1 compare the two dinosaurs.  On page 2 ask students whether dinosaurs went to school.  On page 3, Fred Flintstone is using a purple dinosaur for moving rocks.  Point out that people and dinosaurs did not roam on Earth at the same time.  Dinosaurs are extinct.  On page 4 have students look at the sizes of dinosaurs and compare with elephants and man.  Also note that dinosaurs were the largest land animal, but blue whale, which is living today, was even bigger!
  3. Show the large Carnegie dinosaur models to students. Ask the students to compare and contrast the different models. Describe the heads, teeth, claws, length of tails, methods of walking, and any other features of the models.
  4. Instruct students to look at the coloring exercise and have them point out what is wrong with this picture. They should realize that children and dinosaurs did not live together and grasses and palm trees were not abundant when dinosaurs were dominant.

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