ExpertIconArchaeology.bmp (49558 bytes)     Be an Expert: Paleontology

1. Paleontology Vocabulary     5 Points
Define these words associated with Paleontology.

K-T extinction
trace fossil
Mass extinction
K-T boundary

2. Famous Paleontologists.    
10 Points
Research two of the paleontologists.
Answer the following questions.


3. Kinds of Paleontology     5 Points
Match the kind of paleontology to the type of fossils they study.

Kinds of Paleontology


Fossils Studied

A. Paleobotany              _____ Pollen and Spores
B. Palynology   _____ Microscopic Organisms
C. Invertebrate Paleontology   _____ Plants: Leaves, Flowers, Wood
D. Vertebrate Paleontology   _____ Tracks and Trails
E. Paleoanthropolgy   _____ Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, Mammals: bones
F. Micropaleontology   _____ Humans: Skulls, Bones, Tools
G. Ichnology   _____ Invertebrates: Shells


4. Paleontology Puzzle       5 Points
Here is what a paleontologist does to find and preserve the remains of ancient plants and animals.
Number the steps in order.

_____ Take the fossil to the lab and remove the plaster jacket.

_____ First, find a dig site, a place where you see sedimentary rocks.

_____ Finally, fit the bones together. Think about how this animal might have lived

_____ Third, draw and describe the site before you dig.

_____ Second, use string to make a box, or grid, around the dig site.

_____ Dig to find fossils.

_____ When you find a fossil, place a plaster jacket around it to protect it.

_____ In the lab, glue any broken pieces of the fossil


5. How Are Fossils Formed?       10 Points
They are 7 ways fossils are formed.
Describe each way.




6. Fossil Formation     5 Points
Have students put describing the steps in fossil formation in the correct order:

____   minerals in the ground water slowly replaces the bones, teeth and claws with rock

____   a T rex dies near the edge of a river

____  the muscle and bones decompose

____  T rex’s body gets covered in sediment and is protected from scavengers and  the weather

____  as millions of years pass, the layers of sedimentary rock erode away

____  minerals in the ground water cement the sediment together to form sedimentary rock

____  a paleontologist discovers the T-rex fossil!


7. Dinosaurs in North America      10 Points
Dinosaur fossils have been found all over the world.
There may be fossils of dinosaurs close to where you live.
Visit the Early Dinosaur Discoveries in North America found at:






8. Dinosaur Names     5 Points
Many dinosaur names were created using Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes.
The word dinosaur is an example.
Dino = Terrible    saur = Lizard
Dinosaur = Terrible Lizard

1. Pterosaur _______________________________________________
2. Iguanadon ______________________________________________
3. Brachiosaurus ____________________________________________
4. Suchmimus ______________________________________________
5. Stegosaurus _____________________________________________
6. Brontosaurus_____________________________________________
7. Triceratops ______________________________________________
8. Protoceratops ____________________________________________
9. Allosaurus _______________________________________________
10. Tyrannosaurus Rex _______________________________________

Prefixes                                                                   Suffixes

allo                         other (different)                          cheirus                      hand
anato, apato           goose                                          chus                        claw
ankyl                      curved                                        dactyl                         reptile
archeo                    ancient                                        docus                       beamed
brachio                   arms                                           dont, don                  tooth
bronto                    thunder                                        ischian                      hipped
carn                        meat                                            lestes                      stealer
cera                        horns                                           mimus                     mimic (act like)
coelur                     hollow                                         nathus                       jaw
compsog                elegant                                         pod, poda                 foot
deino, dino             terrible                                         raptor                       plunderer (robber)
diplo                       double                                         rex                         king
herb                        plant                                            saur, saurus             lizard
ichthy                     fish                                               tops                          face
iguano                    iguana                                          vore                        eat
nodo                      knobbed
ornis, ornith            bird
ovum                     egg
pelyco                    basin
proto                      first
pter                        wing
stego                      plated, covered
suchus                    crocodile
tri                           three
tyranno                  tyrant



9. Dinosaur Orders      5 Points
Dinosaurs are divided into two orders: Sauroischia and Ornithischia.
Describe each order.


10. The Mesozoic Era      5 Points
Dinosaurs existed during the Mesozoic Era.
Visit the "Introduction to the Mesozoic Era" found at:
Fill in the chart

Time Period Million of years ago       Major Event           Plants             Animals     
Cretaceous   Pangea existed

Jurrasic     cycads Ichthyosaurs
  248-206 mya



11.Adopt a Dinosaur     10 Points
Choose a dinosaur that you are interested in.
Use Adopt-a-Dinosaur found at:




12. Dinosaur Report     15 Points
Create a written report based on the information from Adopt-a-Dinosaur.
You may create a foldable book or a shape book.

1. What does its name mean? Often this will tell you something important or interesting about the dinosaur.

2. What did your dinosaur look like?

3. How did its anatomy affect its life?

4. What did the dinosaur eat and how did it get its food? Where was this dinosaur in the food chain?

5. How did it walk (2 or 4 legs - slow or fast locomotion)?

6. Is there anything special about this dinosaur?

7. What is known about your dinosaur's behavior?

8. What animals might have attacked it?


9. What animals might it have preyed upon?

10. What type of dinosaur was it (how is it classified and what dinosaurs is it closely related to)?

11. When did your dinosaur live?

12. What was the Earth like at that time?

13. What was your dinosaur's environment like?

14. What other dinosaurs (and other interesting animals) lived in that environment?

15. What did the Earth's continents look like at that time?

16. Where have fossils been found?

17. When were they first found?

18. Who named the dinosaur?

19. Is there anything interesting about the scientist who named it?

13. Chronology Lab of Fossil Hominids     10 Points
Chart the range of existence for each hominid species.
For best reults begin with the oldest hominid fossil on the list.
Orrorin tugenensis lived 6.1 MYA= 6,100,000 years ago to 5.8 MYA= 5,800,000 years ago.
Begin in the lower left portion of the chart.
Move approximately 1 cm to the right for each species.
Put a small dot on the chart for the earliest fossil.
Put another dot on the chart for the latest fossil.
Connect those two marks with a vertical line.
Print the name of the hominid just to the left or the right of the vertical line

Hominid Chronology Data found at
Blank Chart found at:
Hominid Skull Photos found at:
Hominid Skull Drawings found at:


Bonus     5 Points
Add from the extended chart the different apes.
These ancient apes appartently branched off and evolved into their modern forms.


14. Evolution     10 Points
List 3 organisms that have not changed much since prehistoric times.
These organisms are sometimes called "Living Fossils."

List 3 organisms that have a didtinct fossil record of their evolutionary history.

15. Dating Geologic Time     5 points
Define Relative Dating and Absolute Dating.
What type of information can be learned from both techniques?


                       Definition                         Information That Cab Be Learned  
Relative Dating  


Absolute Dating  






The Bone Wars
The "Bone Wars" were an infamous period in the history of paleontology when the two pre-eminent paleontologists of the time, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, were competing to see who could find the most, and most sensational, new species of dinosaur. This competition was marred by bribery, politics, violations of American Indian territories, and virulent personal attacks.

Othinel March and Edward Drinker cope started out as friends and collected fossils together in the eastern United States. Legend says that their well-known rivalry began when Marsh paid some of Cope's fossil diggers to send fossils to him instead. There were other altercations between the two. Marsh in a rush to add to his rivalry-leading tally of dinosaur discoveries, stuck the wrong head on a large Apatosaurus skeleton and deemed it a Brontosaurus. In 1870, Cope published a description of Elasmosaurus (a pleisiosaur), and Marsh pointed out that Cope had placed the animal's skull on the wrong end, on its tail!

For twenty years, Cope and Marsh attacked and slandered each other, and paid their crews to find fossils as quickly as possible. The crews spied on each other and stole fossils. They would sometimes sabotage each other's dig sites, and even their own sites, to prevent the other crew from finding fossils there.

16. Bone Wars Venn Diagram      5 points
Complete a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast Marsh's and Cope's beliefs, attitudes and research methods.

17. Whos's to Blame      10 points
Research one of the paleontologists - Edward Drinker Cope or Othniel Charles Marsh.



Biographical Information: Leidy, Cope, Marsh found at:

Bone Wars found at:

Dinosaurs Alive found at:

Web Geological Time Machine found at: