Thursday, August 28, 2014

Edmontosaurus Teeth vs. Tyrannosaurus Rex Teeth

Our paleontology unit's focus this time (we have had many paleontology units prior to this, and expect many more paleontology units in the future) is on gathering evidence, making observations, and creating hypotheses based on these observations. Both kids already have a huge amount of factual information memorized from our previous studies and from their own interest in paleontology, and this particular hands-on study is best suited to contextualize and bring out the most meaning in our summer dinosaur dig.

The children had a non-fiction reading assignment and worksheet about making diet inferences from teeth. This year Syd has really been able to embrace the "reading to learn" concept, now that she's no longer learning to read, and we've been practicing thoughtful reading, highlighting, note taking, etc. To accompany the worksheet, I printed a gorgeous, life-sized photo of a T-rex tooth (just Google it; there are tons of great ones!), and had the kids sort through their personal collection bags from our dino dig to find some good examples of edmontosaurus teeth:
We found these tooth fragments during surface collection on the first day of the dig.

Will was even able to show us a fragment of edmontosaurus jawbone that she'd been permitted to keep:

Gorgeous, yes?

Using these pieces of evidence, the kids were able to confirm for themselves the overriding scientific theories that the T-rex was a carnivore and the edmontosaurus was an herbivore: 

We studied pterosaurs this week, but my next goals are to get us prepping, identifying, and displaying our personal fossil collections. For this, I think we'll need to study vertebrate paleontology and edmontosaurus anatomy at a more technical level--good thing I have a couple of Children's Museum paleontologists in my Contacts list!


Tina said...

I really should send you my Intro to Dinosaurs text book. I bet you and the girls will get more out of it then I will, now that the class is over.

I'm excited to see what you do with all your fun fossil finds.

julie said...

I'm actually researching what vertebrate paleontology books would be good to read or have on hand for reference. Did you class give you a reading list?

Tina said...

Not really. There is a bibliography at the end of each chapter though. We have other books for the girls' food pantry shelf, so I will just send the textbook as well.


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