In continuing our Dinosaur Unit Study, we are exploring our dinosaur box (buy here). Unzipped bin becomes a dinosaur island play mat, and a play mat becomes a storage bin in a zip! This storage box is so versatile, and it comes with two small dinosaurs.
We love to add "dimension" to our unit-studies with action figures, which offer interactive and sensorial learning experience. When a child can role-play the scenarios, while holding highly-detailed hand-painted toys, and thus submerging into the prehistoric era, learning becomes playing – and playing becomes learning!
This Tyrannosaurus-Rex is so detailed – he even has a movable lower jaw! (Buy here.)
Although the Tyrannosaurus Rex looked quite threatening, it could hardly use its front legs armed with just two claws since they did not even reach his mouth. Nearly seven metres tall and thirteen metres long, the Tyrannosaurus Rex was probably not a very skilled hunter, but rather a scavenger which probably fed on the leavings of other animals. It had more than fifty teeth measuring more than 15 centimetres in length which it used not for chewing but rather for tearing, since it swallowed its food in large chunks. To improve depth-perception when searching for food, the eyes of the Tyrannosaurus Rex were oriented toward the front such that the fields of vision of both eyes overlapped.
Styracosaurus (buy here) were stout dinosaurs that were five and a half meters long and had an impressive skull and lived in the Upper Cretaceous, about 85 to 65 million years ago. Styracosaurus were mere herbivores. With their giant nose horn measuring 50 centimeters and a mighty spiked neck frill, giving its skull a massive triangular appearance, Styracosaurus looked very robust. The function of the neck frill is still subject to speculation. It is assumed that it might have been too thin to work as a protective shield, so it might have served as a communication tool, for example as far as menacing gestures or imposing behavior is concerned.
Apatosaurus (buy here) lived in Late Jurassic (140-135 million years ago). The fossils were found in 🇺🇸the United States and 🇲🇽 Mexico. It weighted as much as five African elephants; was as long as two city buses, and taller than a two-story house. This giant belonged to the sauropods – a group of dinosaurs that included the largest land animals the world has ever known. All sauropods were plant-eaters. They had extra long necks, huge bodies, and long tails. The "smallest" of these giants was 30 feet long. The largest may have been stretched twice as long as a bowling alley and weighed 100 tons – that is more than a fully loaded tractor trailer. Apatosaurus, spent most of its time grazing with its pencil-like teeth and, like all sauropods, it did not chew its food. Instead, Apatosaurus closed its rake-like teeth over a brach and pulled, stripping all the leaves, needles, cones, twigs, swallowing everything thereafter. To digest this difficult diet, sauropods swallowed stones too (gastroliths) which helped pound tons of tough plant food into pulp. Like all sauropods, Apatosaurus had a small head, and even smaller brain – not much bigger than a golf ball. Still, he was one of the largest land animals ever existing. Its long whip like tail alone could reach a length of 17 meters! In terms of age, it wasn't rare for an Apatosaurus to live to be a hundred. p.s. Apatosaurus is just slightly different in appearance Brontosaurus, who has been declared scientifically redundant, loosing its place in the Dino world.
Diplodocus, who lived in North America at the same time as Apatosaurus, was longer than a tennis court, and he had a strong but hollow backbone for reduced wait. It could use its long whiplike tail to fight off fierce meat-eaters.
Spinosaurus (buy similar here).
This dangerous carnivore weighed several tons and could be up to 17 meters long! The Spinosaurus had many sharp, straight teeth in its crocodile-like mouth. His meals usually consisted of other dinosaurs or fish. The smartly designed sail on his back fulfilled several functions. It helped the cold-blooded dinosaurs to vital temperature regulation by collecting or distributing heat. It also served to impress potential mating partners.
Allosaurus (buy similar here and here, or buy a set of (4) here).
Standing more than five meters high and weighing more than a ton, the Allosaurus was the largest carnivore of its time. It had a unique skeleton. Instead of having ribs that were attached to other bones in its body, this dinosaur had ribs that were attached to its skin. The bones in its back were bulky and heavy. Although it had short arms, its front feet were armed with sharp claws which it could use to catch its victims. The Allosaurus often hunted in groups, which made it easier to catch its prey. The Allosaurus was an intelligent, aggressive predator with a lifespan of up to twenty years.
Triceratops (buy here).
Although the Triceratops looked menacing, it fed on plants and trees. As a herbivore, it was hunted by Tyrannosaurus Rex. The front part of its jaw was shaped like a parrot's beak which it used to tear apart the plants it ate. The Triceratops had three horns made of keratin, the same protein fingernails and hair are made of. The horns over its eyes were nearly a meter long. Because its head weighed as much as a small car and made up almost one third of its body, it also had a very heavy tail to keep its ten meter long body in balance. Its legs were very strong, like those of a modern elephant.
Dilophosaurus (buy here, or similar here, or buy a set of (4) here).
After the Compsognathus and the Velociraptor, the Dilophosaurus was one of the fastest prehistoric saurians. Speedy and lean, this carnivore picked up scraps for supper. Despite its six meter-long body (twenty feet), it weighed only 500 kg, and had long, powerful hind legs, with which it could easily reach speeds of up to 38 km/h. Light on his feet, Dilophosaurus left footprints similar to birds and could run surprisingly fast. It had two striking bone crests on its skull, which also led to it being called the "Double Crested Lizard". With three claws on its hands, this dinosaur had an extra claw on its feet called a dewclaw. They were indeed big and long, but too thin to defend itself with. Scientists believe that they were used to impress rivals.
Velociraptors (buy here or buy a set of (4) here) .
Velociraptors were very intelligent dinosaurs who hunted in packs. Even though they stood just two feet tall, these meat-eaters took down much larger prey. These dinosaurs could run up to forty miles per hour and make quick turns thanks to their stiff tail. To eat their prey, velociraptors had eighty sharp, curved teeth in their flat snout, some of which were about an inch long. Known as one of the smartest and fastest dinosaurs, the velociraptor was a dinosaur who got its way.
Kentrosaurus (buy here).
According to research from skeletal remains, the Kentrosaurus was a herbivore. The Kentrosaurus were relatives of the Stegosaurus. However, the Kentrosaurus had a body length of about 5 meters and their plates and spines were arranged in pairs on their back and tail. These plates and spikes were likely used to defend themselves against enemies or during courtship.
Brachiosaurus – our favorite! (Buy here.)
Brachiosaurus, a cousin of Apatosaurus, lived in Late Jurassic period ( 155-145 million years ago) and was one of the largest dinosaurs to ever live! The fossils were found in Colorado and East Africa. Brachiosaurus was heavier than 6 – 7 large elephants. He had huge nostrils on top of his head. Brachiosaurus, like a giraffe, grazed on treetops, filling its giant size stomach with hundreds of pounds of vegetation each day. With chisel-like teeth and a very sharp sense of smell, this plant-eater always found enough to eat. Unlike most other dinosaurs, the Brachiosaurus' front legs were longer than its hind legs which made it easier for this herbivore to reach its food.
p.s. Read here a post about the Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs Pop-up Book📚, and here about the Dinosaurs, First Discovery Series book.
Stay tuned for more on Dinosaur Unit Study …