Dinosaur gallery
Dinosaur gallery Image: Nick Langley
Australian Museum

Self guided activities for secondary school students

Divide your class into small groups of 5-6 students. Distribute the questions between the groups (each set of questions should take approximately 20 minutes).

The four sections are based on the different sections of the exhibition:

  • Dinosaur World
  • Dinosaur Life
  • Discovering Dinosaurs
  • Surviving Dinosaurs

You may wish to have each group present their findings back to the class at the end of your visit or back at school.

Information to assist teachers with the answers to these questions can be found in the Dinosaurs exhibition guide for teachers. The exhibition is full of specimens, models, imagery and text that will provide students with the inspiration to investigate and answer all the questions.

Dinosaur World

Have a look at the Dinosaur World section of the exhibition, shedding light on the Mesozoic era of 251-65 million years ago. How has the earth changed since the Mesozoic era?
What were atmospheric carbon dioxide levels like then?
Did the polar ice caps exist?
What sort of animals and plants co-existed with dinosaurs?
Do you recognise any Mesozoic plants or animals that look like those on Earth today?

Dinosaur Life

How do we know so much about dinosaur diets, lifestyles and specialisations if they lived so long ago?
Find the modern-day animal teeth and see if you can guess what sorts of food they eat. Compare them to the many types of fossilised dinosaur teeth. Do any look the same?
Why did some dinosaurs eat rocks? What is the scientific name for a rock found in a dinosaur's belly? What modern-day animals swallow rocks?
What do palaeontologists call fossilised dinosaur poo and why do they like it so much?

Discovering Dinosaurs

Most people have heard about fossilised dinosaur bones but what other sorts of fossils are there and how do they form?
What is the oldest fossil you can see? Where was it found and what does it tell us?
If you wanted to find a fossil, what types of rock are best to look in? Touch some examples. Are they hard or soft?
Can you find a fossil that hasn't completely changed to rock? (It might still have some real bone, tissue or wood remaining.)

Surviving Dinosaurs

Before viewing this section, discuss as a group what you think caused dinosaurs to become extinct. Are there any dinosaurs still living today?
What do birds and dinosaurs have in common?
Can you find an animal that is an evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs?
Why do you think birds were the only dinosaurs to survive the 'mass extinction'?
Did dinosaurs die out suddenly or over a long period of time?
Can you see any similarities between the end of the Mesozoic era and the Earth today (think about climate change, increase in species extinction, change in environments across the Earth etc.)?