Arctic Dinosaurs, Leaves and Science Fair Project Ideas

Tuesday night I saw an excellent documentary on Arctic Dinosaurs found in Alaska on Nova. This program showed that the paleontologists were able to determine the average annual temperature of the region 70 million years ago using the ratio of smooth edged leaves to toothed edged leaves.

What was truly interesting is that the paleontologists were able to establish a correlation between this ratio and the average temperatures in modern ecosystems which enabled them to predict, within 1 degree C, which is almost better than what modern meteorology technology can produce.

How can you use this information to come up with your own earth science fair experiments? Well first of all you can see if this ratio really is a good predictor of average annual temperatures. You can start by replicating the experiment using the plants found in your local area.

You will need to collect as many leaves as possible and then divide them into smooth edged and toothed edge specimens. Find the ratio of smoothed to toothed edge leaves and then compare them to the ratio that was developed by the paleontologists.

Finding correlations between modern ecosystems and ancient ecosystems is just one way in which we learn about ancient environments. Use what you have learned from the above example to develop your own paleontology or paleon botany science fair projects. Start by gathering information about your local ancient history.

Try to find fossil sites near your house. You will be surprised at how many plant fossils you can find and how many invertebrate fossils you can find along the highway. Collect samples and try to put together a model of what your ecosystem looked like during the last ice age, or during the time of the dinosaurs.

10 thoughts on “Arctic Dinosaurs, Leaves and Science Fair Project Ideas

  1. Ace @ Childs Dinosaur Costume says:

    Hey – interesting post. Scientists can do so many amazing things these days. Im a fairly simple person and never been a whiz at science but I do appreciate the massive strides they’ve made over the years. Using leaf edges to predict age is incredible – I can’t even get my head around how carbon dating works…but I assume they could use carbon dating as well, right?

  2. Chris@Bathroom Wall Cabinets says:

    I routinely take my kids out to the desert and have them dig up in certain spots to see what sort of artifacts they come up with. After a long day of finding different types of rocks and other objects we try to analyze back home and keep what we think are treasures. Teaching kids science with real life experience can really have a lasting impression.

  3. Rory Smith says:

    With an average annual temperature high enough to allow dinosaurs to live in Alaska 70 million years ago (when Alaska was 400 miles closer to the North Pole), one wonders why global warming today is such a big issue? Given the annual global temperatures had to be much higher than they are today to allow dinosaurs to thrive for over 100 million years, are the people so concerned about global warming hiding another agenda that is more important to them than the effects of global warming on the planet? (Perhaps ecology?) Which is perfectly alright and justifiable if stated honestly.

    To try to pervert science to fit one’s hidden private agenda and convince millions of un-educated people of your position is unforgivable though. It is good that you are teaching young people to question so called experts and hold their positions to scientific scrutiny.

  4. Rob Moore@Dinosaur Toys says:

    Very inspirational article. Here in Dorset, UK, we probably have one of the biggest fossil deposits in Europe. School kids keep unearthing marvellous things almost in every school trip. It is quite easy to get them into that scientific thinking gear because they are fascinated with all things dinosaur.

  5. Duane@Dinosaur Party Supplies says:

    Science and technology continues to amaze me of the possibilities. I can only try to imagine what will be possible in the next twenty years as technology grows leaps and bounds each year.

    I am glad that we are still learning important information from the use of dinosaur fossils and ancient particles left behind. It really is neat how the ice can pause the decay of items leaving more answers for us to learn from.

    Excellent post!

  6. Slade@Latex Mattress Topper says:

    This was an excellent post. The marvels of science and technology is indeed astounding! To be able to gain an in-depth knowledge about ancient dinosaur fossils, is both fascinating and remarkable.

    Who knows what other hidden natural wonders we’ll come across in the next 10, 20 years? Frankly, with the constant revolution science and technology is undergoing, I cannot even begin to imagine!

  7. Wireless Headphones for TV says:

    I’m a big fan of these types of shows and try to either catch any shows or books that deal with prehistoric times when it is about dinosaurs.

  8. Subliminal Learning says:

    I think they need to actually do a jurrasic park, you know take the DNA of a dinsaur and make one with a chicken or something. Would be awesome to see a living dinosaur.

  9. Jade@Judo Mats says:

    Thanks for a great article. I agree with all of the points you’ve mentioned. The marvels of modern science and technology is indeed both fascinating and astounding! To be honest, being able to gain an in-depth knowledge about ancient dinosaur fossils, is simply remarkable, don’t you think?

    I wonder what other hidden natural wonders we’ll come across in the next 10 years?

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