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Dinosaurs: Activities and Lesson Plans

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Activity

Flesh Out a Fossil

Discover how artists bring dinosaur skeletons to life with skin, feathers, and other features. Then try to create your own lifelike Velociraptor from a skeletal drawing.

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Classroom Activity

Functions of Feathers

 In this classroom activity, students will learn about the different types of feathers and their functions.

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Activity

Smaller Than You Think

Not all dinosaurs were huge creatures that shook the Earth when they walked. Put two dinosaurs in perspective with this drawing activity.

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Classroom Activity

Relative Speed of Dinosaurs

Put your scientific skills to the test to see if you can figure out tell by their footprints if dinosaurs were walking, trotting, or running. 

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Classroom Activity

Plate Tectonics Puzzle

Piece together what Earth may have looked like approximately 220 million years ago when there was a single supercontinent, Pangaea.

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Classroom Activity

Be a Sleuth: How Dinosaurs Behaved

Like today's crime-scene investigators, paleontologists study clues left behind. See firsthand what trackways—fossilized footprints—can tell them about dinosaur behavior.

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Classroom Activity

Create a Timeline of Earth

Did you know Stegosaurus became extinct 66 million years before T. rex walked the Earth? Explore the planet's diverse eras and periods.

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Curriculum Materials

Dinosaur Name Game for Students

In this activity, students will use a key of Greek and Latin root words to decipher dinosaur names. Then—using their imagination—create their own dinosaur, name it and describe how it would have behaved.

Dinosaur Teeth

Curriculum Materials

Dinosaur Teeth

When it comes to dinosaurs, teeth are the windows to these prehistoric reptiles' stomachs—and the different foods that filled them. Examine dinosaur choppers, strippers, grinders, and rippers.

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Curriculum Materials

Dinosaur Timeline

When you've been alive for less than a decade, how in the world do you grasp geologic time? Start with a 100-inch-long roll of adding machine tape and measure out Earth's past.

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Classroom Activity

Be a Trackway Detective

What can you tell from looking at a fossil record of dinosaur footprints? Everything from which dinosaur was there first to what they might have feasted on.

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Curriculum Materials

Bigger Than You Think

Not all dinosaurs were enormous like the 84-foot-long, 30-ton Apatosaurus. TheCompsognathus, for example, approximated an eight-pound chicken. Size up two others.

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Curriculum Materials

What is a Fossil?

The most common fossils are bones and teeth, but not all fossils are body parts. Explore the wide-ranging evidence of ancient life that scientists use to understand Earth's prehistoric past.

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Curriculum Materials

How Big Were Dinosaurs?

How many times would your footprint fit into that of a large dinosaur? Could all of your classmate's feet fill up the small crater? Find out with this personalized look at the 35-ton Apatosaur.

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Curriculum Materials

Grouping Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs all belong to the same group, but within that group there are many subsets—meat-eating dinosaurs, four-legged dinosaurs, and so on. Try your hand at classification with these eight dinosaur illustrations.

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Classroom Activity

Dinosaur Names Activity

Some dinosaur names are short, while others are lengthy tongue twisters. But all are infused with meaning. Examine the linguistic roots of these terrible (deinos) lizards (sauros). 

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Article

Meet the Paleontologists: Jin Meng

Jin Meng studies the morphology, systematics, and evolution of mammals, particularly early mammals. Unlike some paleontologists who focus primarily upon teeth and dentition as their evidence, Dr. Meng examines the cranium, ear region, and enamel microstructure of teeth as sources of data to address evolutionary issues concerning mammals.

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Activity

Observe a Dinosaur

Ever wish you could watch a dinosaur in action? Investigate modern birds for an insightful look at how ancient dinosaurs moved and behaved.

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