Did the Real T. rex Resemble the One in Jurassic Park? By Brian Switek, National Geographic News
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
When Spielberg’s film “Jurassic Park” (based on the Michael Crichton novel) was first released in 1993 it was a tremendous hit. The new 3D version was recently released and the movie still has a strong following with the main attraction still being (according to various reviews) the mighty T- Rex. During the last 20 years new and interesting discoveries have been made by scientists about T-rex. The following article and lesson plan discusses these discoveries of the “real” Tyrannosaurs-rex. After reading the article you just might want to see the movie (again).
“Scientists know much more about Tyrannosaurus rex than they did 20 years ago. No dinosaur is more cherished than Tyrannosaurus rex. The Cretaceous king of the tyrants epitomizes the size, ferocity, and bizarre nature of dinosaurs that continues to enchant us.
We’re so smitten with T. rex that we are continually bringing the dinosaur back to life through art and film. Perhaps no restoration of the great carnivore has been as influential or celebrated as the genetically engineered tyrant that terrorizes Jurassic Park…
It’s hard to pick a single coolest discovery about Tyrannosaurus rex itself over the last 20 years, says University of Maryland tyrannosaur expert Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. Paleontologists have started to understand how drastically T. rex changed as it grew into an adult and to make sense of the neurological “CPU [central processing unit] and sensors of the killing machine” that made T. rex so deadly, says Holtz.
Of all the dinosaur’s traits, the maw of T. rex has probably inspired the most nightmares—and much of the cutting-edge science. The predator’s deep, reinforced skull was set with an array of thick, serrated teeth that evolved to pierce and cut simultaneously..As Denver Fowler and colleagues presented at the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting last fall, toothmarks on Triceratops skulls hint that T. rex had a step-by-step method of decapitating Triceratops. Yet the destructive power of T. rex wasn’t isolated in its jaws. The dinosaur’s neck muscles played a major role in the carnivore’s ability to kill and consume prey…
The tyrannosaur could have thrown a 110-pound chunk of meat 15 feet into the air and caught it again—a frightening ability known as “inertial feeding.”
T. rex didn’t use its teeth and jaws just to pierce the flesh and crush the bones of prey. Tyrannosaurs also bit each other. Healed wounds on the skulls of tyrannosaurs—such as theteenage T. rex nicknamed Jane—show that these theropods tussled by biting each other on the face. (Arm wrestling wasn’t an alternative, apparently, though T. rex’s small arms were heavily muscled and strong for their size.)
This bit of prehistoric behavior might explain why some of the largest carnivores of all time were ultimately killed by much smaller organisms. The lower jaws of many T. rex are pockmarked with smooth-sided holes. Some researchers thought that these were bite wounds from fatal attacks by rivals, but in 2009 Ewan Wolff and colleagues proposed that these injuries were created by tiny microorganisms that cause the same kind of damage in birds of prey. .. Face-biting would be a direct way for the harmful microorganisms to jump from one T. rex to another. Thanks to tooth-damaged bones, researchers also know that tyrannosaurs cannibalized each other and could have picked up parasites that way.
Even when paleontologists downgrade the abilities of T. rex, the dinosaur still seems scary. One of the most famous scenes in Jurassic Park is the Jeep chase, with an angry T. rex almost making a snack of the smarmy chaos theorist Ian Malcolm.
Could T. rex really run fast enough to keep up with a speeding car? The work of researcher John Hutchinson and colleagues suggests not. The escaping Jeep looks like it’s moving 40 miles per hour or more… but the dinosaur’s movement indicates that the T. rex is moving only about 10-15 miles per hour. This fits what the dinosaur’s skeleton suggests about its speed. By Hutchinson’s calculations, T. rex walked about 6 miles per hour and ran about 15-25 miles per hour. A top speed of 25 miles per hour may seem meager, but the only humans able to exceed it are highly trained Olympic athletes. If you were unfortunate enough to be caught off guard by a T. rex out in the open, you’d stand no chance of outrunning the carnivore… But to date, Jurassic Park’s T. rex is the best committed to film. “I think the movie pretty much nailed it,” Hutchinson says, “as much as ‘it’ can be nailed, given the uncertainties.” Holtz agrees: The movie gave Tyrannosaurus a seriously high but justifiable level of awesome”…
Sadly, we’re never going to get to witness a living T. rex chase after dinosaurian prey—or even after us—to know for sure how closely Jurassic Park’s informed speculation matches reality.” Read more…
Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening with vocabulary and grammar activities.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.
Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. Students will express their understanding of the topic through discussions, and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Tasks
Directions: Ask students to examine the title of the post, and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Based on these sources, ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss.
The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.
The K-W-L stands for: what I Know, what I Want to learn, and what I did Learn.
Directions: Have students use the KWL chart from Michigan State University to list the information they already know about Tyrannosaurs-rex (T-rex). Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance. Have the students write sentences using each word. In addition students can use this wonderful Word Map By Education Oasis to further their understanding.
- No dinosaur is more cherished than Tyrannosaurus rex.
- The Cretaceous king of the tyrants epitomizes the size, ferocity, and bizarre nature of dinosaurs.
- Perhaps no restoration of the great carnivore has been as influential or celebrated as the genetically engineered tyrant that terrorizesJurassic Park.
- Paleontologists have started to understand how drastically T. rex changed as it grew into an adult.
- Of all the dinosaur’s traits, the maw of T. rex has probably inspired the most nightmares.
- The predator’s deep, reinforced skull was set with an array of thick, serrated teeth.
- The predator had an even more formidable bite than the movie portrayed.
- T. rex had the most powerful estimated bite force of any terrestrial predator.
- After T. rex made a kill or found a carcass to scavenge, it could be a delicate feeder.
- Researchers also know that tyrannosaurs cannibalized each other.
True / False
Directions: The following statements were taken from the article. If a statement is true, students write (T) if a statement is false they write (F) and provide the correct answer from the article.
- People love the Tyrannosaurus rex more than any other dinosaur.
- Over the last 20 years ago there hasn’t been any new discoveries made about Tyrannosaurus rex.
- In the 20 years since Jurassic Park debuted, the dinosaur has become even scarier.
- Of all the dinosaur’s traits, the maw of T. rex gave people bad dreams.
- The bite force of an adult T. rex was almost as powerful as other large predators.
- T. rex could really run fast enough to keep up with a speeding car.
- The pockmarked holes on the lower jaws of many T. rex were injuries created from fatal attacks by rivals.
- Researchers know that tyrannosaurs cannibalized each other.
- To date, Jurassic Park‘s T. rex is the best committed to film.
- Thanks to cloning, we might get to witness a living T. rex chase after dinosaurian prey one day.
Word Order Puzzle
Directions: The following 5 sentences from the reading are out of order. Have students arrange them in the correct order. Students can find the original sentences in the reading to check their work. The first group to arrange all five sentences correctly wins!
- cherished more Tyrannosaurus rex is dinosaur than No.
- maw dinosaur’s inspired traits, has nightmares all of Of T. rex most the the the probably.
- in isolated destructive T. rex The jaws its wasn’t of power.
- fast thing, the very moving For T. rex actually one movie’s wasn’t.
- shown The film behaviors care the throughout dinosaur’s parental include series.
III. Post Reading Activities
Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. After, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the discussion topics. Review ESL Voices Modes of Essay Writing.
- The article states, “No dinosaur is more cherished thanTyrannosaurus rex. The Cretaceous king of the tyrants epitomizes the size, ferocity, and bizarre nature of dinosaurs that continues to enchant us.” Provide possible reasons for this fascination people have with T. rex.
- In the film “Jurassic Park”, scientists were able to clone the different pre-historic species. Cloning is a real process which involves creating genetic copies of biological matter. In your opinion, do you foresee scientists actually cloning any type of pre-historic mammal? Provide reasons why or why not.
- From the article, “The dinosaur’s behaviors shown throughout the film series include, parental care, family hunting, puncture-and-pull feeding, chasing prey with a fast walk.” Restate this phrase in your own words. For example, how would you describe the phrase “parental care”?
- If a real Tyrannosaurus rex was cloned today, describe what you think would happen to it as it grew older. For example, who would care for it? Where would it stay? ( keep in mind how big a T. rex grows (see chart above) and how much space it would need). Will people have to pay a price to view it? (as opposed to making donations to view this wonder). For a comparison, find out how large animals in zoos and sanctuaries are cared for today.
IV. Listening Activity
Video Clip: Tyrannosaurus REX (Extreme Survivor)
Introduction: The following video clip (approximately 25 minutes long) is an excerpt from the Clash of the Dinosaurs series episode Extreme Survivors featuring the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex produced by Discovery Channel in 2009.
While Listening Tasks
True /False/ NA statements
Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T if the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer. If there is no information available for a statement then students write NA.
- Of all the dinosaurs Tyrannosaurus Rex has the worst reputation as a killer.
- A T. rex can grow to be 18 ft tall and and 40 ft long.
- Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the worst dinosaur parents.
- Tyrannosaurus rex means “Jurassic Park Lizard”.
- The adult T. rex will guard their nest for as long as 3 months.
- The T. rex hatchlings are safe as soon as they are born because their parents are so big.
- The T. rex babies may be 9 ft long and weigh from 5 to 8 pounds.
- The Tyrannosaurus rex sense of smell is so acute it is equivalent to 100 blood hounds.
- The animal most dangerous to Tyrannosaurus rex was the flying Pterodactyl.
- TheTriceratops could reach up to 6 tons in weight.
- The most dangerous part of the triceratops was its swinging head which resembled a giant white Rhinoceros, with 3 foot long horns and a body encased a bony shield.
- According to scientists the Triceratops usually lost the battles with T. rex .
- Triceratops were meat eaters.
- Scientists have learned that the bacteria inside a T. rex’s mouth was mild, as long as they brushed their teeth with leaves as they ate.
- A huge meteor lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Questions for Discussion
Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.
1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of Tyrannosaurus rex changed in any way? If yes, describe in what way. If no, describe your original opinion.
2. Did you agree with everything the scientists discussed?
3. What new information did you learn from this video?
4. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the speakers.
Enchanted Learning has wonderful T. rex Worksheets.
Education World offers printable and interactive activities about dinosaurs that students can do online and off, in or out of class.
Please come back again.