Could you outrun a dinosaur

William I. Ausich
Ohio State University
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Hands-on measurements of a dinosaur trackway, calculation of dinosaur speeds, etc.

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Undergraduate non-major course in History of Life on Earth

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

using a calculator

How the activity is situated in the course

The final laboratory exercise


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Types of information that is preserved in the fossil record

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

analysis of data

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

After looking at vertebrate skeletons and viewing videos dealing with vertebrates, this is a hands-on exercise with data the students can gather from simulated dinosaur trackways. To scale footprints (cut from poster board) are taped to the hallway floor; one of a bipedal theropod and one a quadrapedal sauropod. Students make the appropriate measurements directly from the simulated trackways. These data, plus additional data provided, are the basis for calculations necessary to calculate speed. With this information, various questions are answered.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Whether they answer the questions correctly and thoughtfully.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Alexander, R.M. 1989. Dynamics of Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Giants. Columbia University Press, New York, 167 p.