Questions for ‘Roadkill: Learning from the dead’


This European badger is a common species of mustelid. It is also a common casualty of traffic in the United Kingdom.

kallerna/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

To accompany feature “Roadkill: Learning from the dead”


Before reading: 

1.    Suppose you are studying squirrels in your area. If you wanted to know how many of them lived near you, how might you accomplish that? Brainstorm a few ways of studying the squirrels (or some other type of wildlife that lives near you).

2.    A road is a dangerous place for any animal, including humans, because cars can kill. Why do animals venture onto roads?

During reading:

1.    How does Michelle Stocker use dermestid beetles in her lab?

2.    What are phytosaurs and when did they live?

3.    How does Michelle Stocker use roadkill in her classroom?

4.    What is the difference between an articulated and a disarticulated skeleton?

5.    Name three types of mustelids.

6.    How did Clément Calenge collect data on mustelids in France?

7.    What is Project Splatter?

8.    Why are Sarah Perkins and other scientists worried about hedgehogs?

9.    Based on the story, how can raptors end up as roadkill?

10.  How can raptors be used to collect information on chemicals in the environment?

After reading:

1.    Now that you have read the story, rethink the first question in this list, about the squirrels. Could you use roadkill to study squirrels? If you did, what kinds of things could you learn about squirrels in general and about the ones that live in your area in particular?

2.    The four scientists in this story aren’t the only ones using roadkill in the classroom and lab. What other uses might these dead animals have for scientists?


1.    If the U.K. hedgehog population was 10 million in 1950 and 1.5 million in 1995, what was the annual rate at which the population declined? If there are 1 million hedgehogs today, and 50,000 are killed by cars every year, how many years until there might only be 817,000 hedgehogs left? Show your work.