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First, get to know your dinosaur. Read as much information about it as you can find. Try the Internet and the library. Get some information about the time when your dinosaur lived and the place(s) it lived (see the sections in ZoomDinosaurs.com with the "Mesozoic Era"). Remember that the Mesozoic Era was very different than the present in many ways, including the climate, geography, plant and animal life, etc. Then, think like a dinosaur.
For information on particular dinosaurs, try the Dinosaur Information Sheets, the Dinosaur and Paleontoloy Dictionary, Dinosaur fact sheets, or Dinosaur Printouts.
When you write your report, try to answer as many of the following questions as you can (but unfortunately, not all of these things are known for all dinosaurs):
Use your own words. Check your spelling and grammar. Define any technical terms (look them up in the Dinosaur Dictionary). And remember to think like a dinosaur.
- What does its name mean? Often this will tell you something important or interesting about the dinosaur.
- What did your dinosaur look like? For example, how big was it, what shape was its body, were its legs long or short, did it have horns, plates, crests or claws, describe the teeth, head, neck, tail, etc. Draw a picture if you can. Remember that dinosaur weights are very hard to estimate and can vary widely from one reference to another.
- How did its anatomy affect its life? For example: a giant sauropod had to eat a lot but didn't have to worry much about protecting itself, a tiny dinosaur probably had to run fast to escape being eaten for dinner, an armored dinosaur didn't have to be fast, but did have to avoid being flipped over, and so on.
- What did the dinosaur eat and how did it get its food? Where was this dinosaur in the food chain?
- How did it walk (2 or 4 legs - slow or fast locomotion)?
- Is there anything special about this dinosaur? This can often be the best part of the report, taking you off on interesting topics. For example, how did blood get to a Brachiosaurus' head, what were Stegosaurus' plates used for, what was Parasaurolophus' unusual crest probably used for, or how did Spinosaurus use its sailback?
- What is known about your dinosaur's behavior, if anything? For example: Is there evidence of herding? Did it nurture its young? Have any nests or eggs been found? How did your dinosaur rate in terms of intelligence?
- How did it defend itself (and/or attack other animals)?
- What animals might have attacked it? Or what animals might it have preyed upon? (See the section on when your dinosaur lived during the Mesozoic Era to find some of its contemporaries - the animals with which it lived.)
- What type of dinosaur was it (how is it classified and what dinosaurs is it closely related to)?
- When did your dinosaur live? Say it both in terms of how many millions of years ago it was, and what the name of the geologic time period was. Was it an early dinosaur or one of the last before the K-T extinction.
- What was the Earth like at that time? What was your dinosaur's environment like and what other dinosaurs (and other interesting animals) lived in that environment? What did the Earth's continents look like at that time? (This information is available in the section called "Mesozoic Era.") For example, when the early dinosaurs lived, the earliest mammals had also just appeared.
- Where have fossils been found? When were they first found? Are there just a few fragments or are there almost complete specimens?
- Who named the dinosaur? Is there anything interesting about that scientist who named it?
References: When you write your bibliography, list all of your references. A format for each type of publication follows (there are different formats for different media):
Author(s) are listed last name first, first name or initials (as cited in the publication)
- Web Site: Author(s). Title of Site or web page. URL of site, copyright year listed.
- Book: Author(s). Title of book. Edition. Location of publisher: Name of Publisher, year of publication.
- Encyclopedia: Title of encyclopedia, volume of encyclopedia used. Location of publisher: Name of Publisher, year of publication, pages where the article is located.
- Magazine or Journal: Author(s). "Title of article." Name of magazine, Volume.issue (date): pages where the article is located.
For example: Zoom Dinosaurs would be cited as follows:
Col, Jeananda. Zoom Dinosaurs. http://www.ZoomDinosaurs.com 1999.
For more on EnchantedLearning's bibliography and author, click here.
Go to a rubric for assessing a student's animal report.
|Information Sheets About Dinosaurs |
(and Other Prehistoric Creatures)
Just click on an animal's name to go to that information sheet. If the dinosaur you're interested in isn't here, check the Dinosaur Dictionary or the list of Dinosaur Genera. Names with an asterisk (*) were not dinosaurs.
How to write a great dinosaur report.
For dinosaur printouts, click here.
For brief dinosaur fact sheets, click here.
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