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Mini T. rex Fossil Surprises Scientists


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Grades 2-up

News Content

A new dinosaur find looks a lot like a T. rex, but it is different in some important ways.

Anticipation Guide

Ask students to identify some of the most familiar dinosaur species. What were some of the distinguishing characteristics among those species? (Students might mention size and other elements of physical appearance; types of prey; period of time when they lived)

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: traits, similar, fraction, carnivore, designed, and hundredth. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Only a small _____ of students in the class knew the answer to the difficult question. (fraction)
  • A _____ is an animal that gets its energy from eating meat. (carnivore)
  • The skirt looked silly on the tiny woman because it was _____ to be worn by someone much taller. (designed)
  • Setting a good example and cheering on others are two _____ of a good teammate. (traits)
  • A penny has one _____ the value of a dollar. (hundredth)
  • Jose picked up the wrong coat because it looked so _____ to mine. (similar)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Mini T. rex Fossil Surprises Scientists.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share the video above with students. In this video, University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno talks about the discovery of Raptorex, an ancestor of Trannosaurus rex.

    Share some of these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    Share this illustration of Raptorex. The illustration shows the size of Raptorex in comparison to the larger T. rex.
  • Roughly speaking, Raptorex was about 1/5 the length of T. rex and 1/100th its weight.
  • Raptorex lived at least 125 million years ago. T. rex lived between 68 million and 65 million years ago.
  • In addition to many common physical features, Raptorexs brain had the same enlarged olfactory bulbs that T. rexs had, which suggests that it had a highly developed sense of smell. Scientists learned this by passing Raptorex through a CT scanner at the University of Chicago hospital.
  • Researchers determined that the Raptorex was about five years old when it died; they determined that by examining a thin section of the skeleton's thigh bone under a microscope.
  • "It's becoming harder and harder to find fossils like this that totally throw us for a curve," said Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist with the American Museum of Natural History and co-author of an article about Raptorex published this month in Science.. Until now, we thought that T. rex's features had evolved as a consequence of its large body size. Instead, the 8-foot-long Raptorex seems to be proof that such qualities could have been innate.
  • Raptorex kriegsteini (its full scientific name) is named for Henry Kriegstein. After the remains of Raptorex were discovered in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in northeastern China, they were smuggled out of China and into the United States. There, still encased in a stone block, the remains were purchased by fossil collector Kriegstein, who donated them to science.
  • Raptorex will be the subject of the TV program Bizarre Dinos, which will air on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

    Use the News

    Print out for students this weeks Use the News printable activity page. Or use the questions on that page to check student comprehension orally.

    Use the News: Answer Key
    Comprehension Check. 1.F, 2.T, 3.T, 4.F, 5.F, 6.T.
    Main Idea. Raptorex and T. rex were different in two big ways.
    Vocabulary Checkup. 1. northeast, 2. appearance, 3. traits, 4. amazed, 5. fraction (Note: the word hundredth might be an acceptable response to #5, but the word of would not be needed in that sentence.)



    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    MATHEMATICS: Measurement
    GRADES Pre-K - 2
    NM-MEA.PK-2.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-MEA.3-5.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-MEA.6-8.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-MEA.9-12.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.3 Life Science
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.3 Life Science
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.3 Life Science

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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