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back in time

 
 
 
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Learning materials and activity sheets

(Download and print before starting lesson)

Activities

Design-o-saur Activity

Print A4

You’ll need:

  • Pencils and Pens

Explore being a Palaeontologist

You’ll need

  1. Fossils or fake bones

  2. A large tub

  3. Sand

  4. Paint brushes

Method

There are a few ways you can create/buy the fossils, either; visit a fossil shop or search online, make your own using dinosaur bone molds or purchase a fossil digging kit.


Hands on learning

We also purchased some cool dinosaur models and fossils for hands on, interactive and creative learning!

Posters and learning aids

Geological Time Scale Poster

Print A3 (laminate)

Megalodon Poster

Print A3 (laminate)

Elasmosaurus Poster

Print A3 (laminate)

Size comparisons

Print A3 (laminate) and cut out individual characters

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© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd


QUESTION

Why is History important?


Here is what we think.

History provides us with solutions to many of the problems of the present. It allows us to reflect and learn from those before us.

It is a tool that we can draw inspiration from. History teaches us that things can change and from this perhaps we can find courage. When pressed against the present it can become so easy to feel overwhelmed. However, when we delve into history we can draw inspiration from those before us. Those that made decisions, created movements and inventions whose waves are still felt today.

It also gives us a sense of place, and where we have come from. Connecting us to every person and creature, everything living thing that has shared this remarkable planet with us.


 
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Millions of years ago the world was home too lots of different plants and animals. However, some of those plants and animals looked very different to the ones you and I are familiar with.

QUESTION

How do we know they existed if we, as humans, where not around?

 

HOW ARE FOSSILS MADE?

A fossil is the preserved remains or traces of a dead organism. The process by which a fossil is formed is called fossilisation.

It’s very rare for living things to become fossilised. Usually after most animals die their bodies just rot away and nothing is left behind. However, under certain special conditions, a fossil can form.

After an animal dies, the soft parts of its body decompose leaving the hard parts, like the skeleton, behind. This becomes buried by small particles of rock called sediment.

As more layers of sediment build up on top, the sediment around the skeleton begins to compact and turn to rock.

The bones then start to be dissolved by water seeping through the rock. Minerals in the water replace the bone, leaving a rock replica of the original bone called a fossil.

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

STUDYING FOSSILS

Scientists who search for and study fossils are called Palaeontologists.

Paleo meaning old

Ontology meaning the study of existence

Palaeontologists learn about the ancient world! Fossils provide evidence for how living things and the environment have changed over time.

Fossils have been found in rocks of all ages, stretching back billions of years. However, most of the species found in the fossil record have died out or become extinct.

Fossils don’t just show how living things have changed; they can also help us understand how the Earth has changed.

Over millions of years the Earth’s surface shifts and changes. For example, rocks that once formed the seafloor might be forced up to form a mountain range. This means that you can sometimes find the fossils of sea creatures at the peak of a mountain.


Activity

Explore the role of a Palaeontologists.

Use the fossil digging kit.


Geological Time Scale

Scientists who study the structure and history of Earth are called geologists. Geologists study rocks and fossils, or remains of living things that have been preserved in the ground. The rocks and fossils tell the story of Earth from when its crust formed 4.5 billion years ago to the present. Geologists have mapped out a time scale that is a “calendar” of Earth’s geologic history. This calendar is called Geological Time Scale.

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd


PREHISTORIC BEASTIES

Let’s go back in history and take a look at some of the cool creatures that once roamed our ocean.

First let’s take a look at one that looks very similar to a creature that currently calls our ocean home.

Sharks have been swimming and hunting in the worlds oceans for 420 million years! By the time Dinosaurs evolved, around 220 million years ago sharks had already been around for 200 million years.

During the Miocene period one very big Shark patrolled the ocean.

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

(Use Megalodon poster download)

This 50-foot (15 - 18m) shark (elasmobranch) is known as Megalodon. Megalodon patrolled our ocean for 13 million years during the Miocene period, and, where pro whale eating machines, their prey also included other large sea creatures. Given their vast size and powerful bite force it is suggested that 'The Meg' may have been one of the most powerful predators ever to have existed. 

Before megalodon was correctly identified as a shark, its teeth were thought to be rocks that had fallen from the moon or the petrified tongues of dragons and giant serpents.

Over the years, many fossilized whalebones have been found with signs of bite marks that match megalodon's massive pearly whites. These triangular teeth could be over 7 inches in length! Reconstructions of the megalodon’s jaw suggest it may have been up to 7 feet across (2.1 meters) by  11 feet (3.4 metres) and lined with around 276 of these 7-inch gnashers.

Bite force? I am glad you asked. 
Humans have been measured with a bite force of around 1,317 Newtons (N), while great white sharks have been predicted to be able to bite down with a force of 18,216N. Researchers have estimated that megalodon had a bite of between 108,514 and 182,201N. 

Although the Megalodon no longer exists, Sharks have been every good at Surviving changes in Earth’s climate.

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

Meet elasmosaurus (EE-LAZMO-SORE-us) 

(Use elasmosaurus poster download)

A poster lizard which still holds a somewhat mythical status is the ‘Loch Ness Monster” which bares remarkable resemblance to the elasmosaurus. Elasmosaurus lived during the Cretaceous period. At close to 15.2 metres and up to three tonnes, the Elasmosaurus was one of the biggest plesiosaurs of the Mesozoic Era. Elasmosaurus had the longest neck of any plesiosaur yet identified, about half the length of its entire body and supported by a whopping 71 vertebrae!

Elasmosaurs, although beautifully adapted to aquatic life, were still reptiles, and thus had lungs rather than gills, meaning they had to surface to breath. Despite many depictions showing this majestic reptile holding it's neck elegantly out of the water, palaeontologists have concluded that, given the enormous size and weight of its neck, Elasmosaurus was incapable of holding anything more than its tiny head above the water.  

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

Tyrannosaurus Rex (tie-RAN-oh-SORE-us)

Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) has without doubt captured the imaginations of people all around the globe since its discovery in 1902. It is one of the most well-represented of the large theropods (a dinosaur suborder that is characterised by hollow bones and three-toed limbs) and is one of the very few dinosaurs where people can name the species!

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Clade: Dinosauria

Order: Saurischia

Suborder: Theropoda

Family: Tyrannosauridae

Genus: Tyrannosaurus

Species: Tyrannosaurus rex

Tyrannosaurus was a bipedal (walked on two legs) carnivore (meat eater) with a massive skull balanced by a long, heavy tail. T. rex could grow to lengths of over 12.3 m. T-Rex was most likely an apex predator (top of the food chain) and would feast on many other of the dinosaurs of that time, some T-Rex fossils have been found with Tyrannosaur bite marks in them!

Their 1.5m jaw was lined with 80 serrated, banana sized pearly whites, its estimated that they had a bite force of about 56,937 Newtons (N) making T. rex the hardest-biting terrestrial animal ever known! This meant he could chomp down on his prey with bone crunching force.

Tyrannosaurus rex ruled the Earth for about 1 million years and then disappeared in the blink of an eye.


Activity

Using the Comparing sizes poster compare the sizes of the different creatures


Question

Why is T-Rex not around today? What happened the them?

Do you know how many mass extinctions there have been on Earth?

Take a look at the Geological Time scale poster, do you notice the little skulls?

These symbols the five known mass extinction events that have taken place on our planet.


THE MASS EXTINCTION EVENTS

In the history of this planet we know of five mass extinction events, when the majority of life on Earth disappeared. Today we are going to focus on the most recent of the five, the one that saw the fall of T-Rex’s rule.

(If you are interested we’ve included some information on the other mass extinction events below)

Extinction is the termination of an organism or of a group of organisms, usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species.

During the Five mass extinctions events we saw 70 - 90% of species disappear.

Dovician - Silurian (450 million years ago)

The second largest of the five major extinction events, saw an estimate of 85% of all Ordovician species disappear. With global cooling and falling sea levels.

Late Devonian (365 million years ago)

The late Devonian eliminated 70 to 80% of all animal species, caused by several stresses such as; lack of oxygen, rapid global warming or cooling and meteorite or comic impacts.

End Permian (250 million years ago)

This event wiped out 96% of Earths species. Nicknamed the ‘Great Dying’. Less than 5 percent of the animal species in the seas survived. Possibly caused by an asteroid that hit just below Australia.

Triassic - Jurassic (200 million years ago)

This event saw the demise of 76% of all marine and terrestrial species. The dinosaurs, pterosaurscrocodilesturtlesmammals, and fishes were little affected by the transition. This event still remains a matter of considerable debate. Many scientists predict that this event was caused by climate change and rising sea levels resulting from the sudden release of large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Cretaceous - Paleogene (66 million years ago)

Known as the K-T extinction global extinction event this was responsible for eliminating approximately 80 percent of all species of animals.

For many years Palaeontologists have been thinking of theories as to what wiped out the Dinosaurs. When we look at rocks of the Cretaceous period we find high levels of Iridium. Iridium is not commonly found on Earth put it plentiful on Meteorites.

A massive Meteorite impact crater was discovered in the Arizonian desert in the United States confirming this theory. The Meteor that hit earth was almost 10 km across and was travelling at 128,747 kph. The impact was felt around the world, causing a massive tsunami, molten glass beads rained down on Earth from above and the temperature around the Globe soared. In the blink of an eye the dinosaurs went extinct, this terrible day for dinosaurs meant that mammals inherited the Earth.

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

Take a closer look at the Geological time scale poster, notice the skull right at the top with a question mark next to it?

Even when things are going well on Earth, there is a background rate of extinction. Among mammals we’d except to see one species go extinct every 700 thousands years. Studies of current extinctions rates say that we are 1000 x past that. There are a lot of species we haven’t even discovered or identified yet so these numbers are probably underestimated.

Along the way, we, humans, have been altering the world around us. No living thing as ever altered life on Earth to the degree we have, which is why the Sixth Mass extinction is known as the Anthropocene Defaunation.

Anthropocene: of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature.

Defaunation: Used to denote the loss of both species and populations of wildlife.

While deforestation is a term that is now readily recognised, and influential in focusing scientific, and general public attention on biodiversity issues, (particularly as remote sensing technology provides rigorous quantitative information and compelling images of the magnitude, rapidity, and extent of patterns of deforestation). Defaunation is a term that remains a largely cryptic phenomenon.

“In less than two generations of humans, the populations of vertebrate animals have dropped by 52% between 1970 and 2010”

Perhaps this time we are the Asteroid?

Did you know?

Sharks have survived all five of these! The scary thing is that now many types of sharks are threatened by hunting and pollution caused by humans. Shark numbers are dropping everyday. In fact 161 sharks are killed a minute!


Did dinosaurs really go extinct?

Question - What do you think??


how the earth has changed

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

© elasmo holdings pty ltd

Over the 4.5 billions years that Earth has existed it has gone through many changes. Our planet has always been covered in ocean but the world map hasn’t always looked this way!

Today for example there are five oceans

  • the Atlantic Ocean

  • the Pacific Ocean

  • the Indian Ocean

  • the Southern Ocean

  • the Arctic Ocean

Around 240 millions years ago all the continents we see today were joined! Forming a supercontinent known as Pangea.

Over time the continents have slowly drifted further and further apart! But why?

This shift in Continents is believed to be because of Plate tectonics. Plate tectonics make up the Lithosphere. (Remember we looked at this in the Planet Earth workshop).

Plate tectonics is the theory that Earth's outer shell is divided into several plates that glide over the mantle. According the the World Atlas there are 9 major plates. These constantly shifting plates have formed mountains ranges, created oceans, formed supercontinents and ultimately created Earth as we know it today.


ACTIVITY

Design-O-Saur!

Let’s spend some time with our imaginations and design our own Dinosaur.

Consider;

  • The environment he or she might live in, what features will they need to survive this environment? Perhaps they require camouflage or long fur or scales?

  • Their diet - are they a herbivore (plant eater) or carnivore (meat eater). If they are a herbivore they would need teeth perfect for chopping on leaves just like Horses. If they eat meat they will need sharp teeth like a lion.

  • Are they a predator (A living animal that hunts and kills in order to survive) or prey (Living animals that are hunted and killed by other animals) what features will they need to protect them? Do they have a spiky body like a Stegosaurus or sharp claws like a Raptor?

  • Anatomical features - horns, how many legs? how many eyes? big nose?

Inspiration

You can draw inspiration from other animals like

  • Dinosaurs

  • Birds of Paradise

THIS IS YOUR WORLD THERE ARE NO LIMITS! Be creative!