Teach the Earth > Paleontology > Teaching Activities > Osteology of Dinosaurs at The Field Museum

Osteology of Dinosaurs at The Field Museum

Roy Plotnick, University of Illinois, Chicago, plotnick@uic.edu
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Mar 21, 2014


This activity explores vertebrate paleontology/paleobiology of the Mesozoic. It focuses on dinosaur osteology using skeletons and models at The Field Museum in Chicago. Students will compare the morphology of several types of bones between a variety of ornithischian and saurischian dinosaurs.



This activity is appropriate as part of the curriculum of a course for undergraduates majoring in or graduate students focusing on paleontology, evolutionary biology, paleobiology, or a related area.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

In order to complete this activity, students must have a basic knowledge of vertebrate anatomy and terminology, and dinosaurian phylogeny (e.g. ornithischians vs saurischians). They must work in a group to critically compare and categorize bones. Detailed note-taking and sketching may also be used.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity can act as a stand-alone exercise, but students must be familiar with the concepts mentioned above to adequately complete it. It is best used as an exercise in the use of already known anatomical terms and as preparation for more in-depth studies of specific bones.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

applying concepts learned in the classroom to real specimens: comparative anatomy, functional anatomy, phylogeny based on morphology

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

quantitative and qualitative observation, application of abstract concepts to concrete examples, critical thinking, deduction, comparison and categorization

Other skills goals for this activity

consensus building in a group, use of proper terminology, note-taking, sketching

Description and Teaching Materials

Directions and questions are attached. Students will not need any materials beyond a means to record and turn in their answers.
Osteology of Dinosaurs-Field Museum (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 17kB Nov26 12)

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