Questions for ‘That’s no dino!’

Children’s books often refer to many of the big reptiles — such as flying pterosaur depicted here, the Ikrandraco avatar — as dinosaurs. They aren’t, although they did share the dinos’ environment.


To accompany feature: That’s no dino!


Before reading:

1.    Name three species of dinosaur. What do they all have in common?

2.    Name three species of modern reptile. What do they have in common with dinosaurs? How are they different?

During reading:

1.    When did dinosaurs first appear in the fossil record, and when did they disappear from it?

2.    What is special about the hips of dinosaurs?

3.    What is cladistics?

4.    Why is the Mesozoic Era sometimes called “the Age of Reptiles”?

5.    Was Nundasuchus a dinosaur? Why or why not?

6.    What is a pterosaur?

7.    Use the information in the story to explain what was responsible for the dramatic increase over time in the average wingspan of pterosaurs.

8.    What distinguishes a pterodactyl from other pterosaurs?

9.    What was special about Ikrandraco avatar?

After reading:

1.    Birds and pterodactyls lived at the same time. Pterodactyls became extinct but birds did not. Use what you learned in the story to argue why that might be.

2.    If paleontologists found the fossils of an unknown species of reptile from the Mesozoic Era, what characteristics would they look at to determine if it was a dinosaur, and why?


1.    Using information from this story, calculate how long dinosaurs lived on Earth. Now calculate what share (percentage) of that period of time — from the dawn of the dinosaurs to today — that dinosaurs walked the Earth.

2.    Early pterosaurs had an average wingspan of 1.2 meters. Later, larger pterosaurs had a wingspan of some 10 meters. Convert that increase in size from meters into feet. And how many times bigger were these later pterosaurs than their earlier ancestors?