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Re: Student Question...



>
>One of my third graders needs some answers to these questions:
>
>Dear Paleontologist,
>       Is it treue that a meteorite killed the dinosaurs?  Also, is it
>true that triceratops protects it's self by it's shield?
>Your friend,
>Ashley Rolle

I'm just one of the "arm-chair" paleontologists, but that won't stop
me from adding my $0.02.

Science may never completely answer such questions.  Explain, that
the answers are based on little bits of information and evidence about
the past, viewed in the light of what we know (or at least believe we
know) today.  Use this opportunity to have the child think about how
we would figure out what might have happened, using just a few clues.

There is getting to be a pretty strong case that something large hit
the Earth near the same time that dinosaur (and other types of living
things) disappear from the fossil record.  But there is a tremendous
debate whether this was the primary cause, the "last straw", or even
unrelated to the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Without a time machine
to go back and watch, it's a matter of who makes the best arguments.

The Triceratops undoubtably would have used its frill and horns for
defense if it had to.  But deciding if that was the primary use is
very hard.  Many people believe that these were much like the antlers
on deer and elk.  They are mostly for mating display and mating
combat.  But they can also be used for defense when needed.

Art