Share it! Science : Dinosaur Dreams Come True

Dinosaur Dreams Come True

image: By J. Spencer, Tadek Kurpaski, Daderot, EvaK, Domser, Captmondo. Collage by Matthew Martyniuk [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
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     Dinosaurs are an engaging topic for many children and adults alike. I was definitely a dinosaur kid, and that is common for those of us who enjoy nature. Multiple Intelligences Theory would place us in the Naturalist Intelligence category. After all of the dinosaur discoveries, you'd think we'd run out of new fossils to find, but it hasn't happened yet. Recently a 5-year old dino lover's dreams came true when he found what might be a rare dinosaur bone with his dad.
     Young Wylie Rys was out fossil hunting with his dad, Tim, a zookeeper at the Dallas Zoo. Wylie brought his dad back a chunk of bone he found while they searched in a plot of disturbed land behind a shopping center in Mansfield, TX. It turns out that this chunk of bone may be part of a nodosaur, a rare find for this area. The nodosaur was a plated dinosaur about the size of a small horse. A team from Southern Methodist University is excavating these findings to learn more.

     Although many of us dream of finding a dinosaur, few of us have. Despite this, it is still fun to learn about them. The tricky bit for us grown-ups is keeping up with all the changes in dinosaur names and information as scientists learn more and re-classify the dino groupings. If you spend time with young children like I do, you've probably found you're being corrected when you try to talk about dinos using the names we learned, such as Brontosaurus- which now is referred to as an Apatosaurus. This is a great example of how much we are still learning about dinosaurs. As of a few days ago it turns out the Brontosaurus is back! Score one for adults everywhere!
     So how does one keep up with all of these changes? There are several major news outlets that reserve a web page just for dinosaur news, such as the NY Times and Discovery. Lots of research and news comes from the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum which is in the process of a major overhaul of their dino exhibit. Another great resource for keeping current with dinosaurs is the American Museum of Natural History. See the resource section below for some other interesting resources and great lesson plans.
     If you are looking for some picture books for introducing paleontology to children, I would recommend one of my childhood favorites that I continue to use in my classroom, "Digging Up Dinosaurs...and Putting them Back Together Again" by Aliki. The original book is out of print, however, it has been published under a shorter title: Digging Up Dinosaurs (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2).
Another good one is from the Magic School Bus series: The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs. I find picture books are always a great way to introduce topics and reinforce what students learn from their hands-on explorations.
Dinosaur Resources and Lesson Plans 

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