Cernan Earth and Space Center
Grade Level: 3rd grade and upLength: 40 minutes
Dinosaur! is a multimedia program that combines stars, panoramic scenes, photographs, artwork, video clips and a variety of planetarium special effects to take viewers on an imaginary trip to the prehistoric world of dinosaurs. Since the first dinosaur fossils were discovered over a century ago, hundreds of different kinds of dinosaurs, large and small, have been discovered. This program describes the basic types of dinosaurs and offers insights into certain aspects of their behavior and daily life. The dinosaurs presented in the show are as follows:
The next segment of Dinosaur! offers clues to the mystery of why the dinosaurs, along with many other forms of life, became extinct 65 million years ago. Many theories have been proposed over the years to explain the cause of these mass extinctions. Was it a change in the climate triggered by a decrease in light coming from the sun? Did a nearby star explode as a supernova, sending deadly high energy radiation into space, and eventually past Earth?
Currently, there is new evidence to support the idea that a comet, meteor or asteroid (or a swarm of these celestial bodies) collided with Earth, putting an abrupt and violent end to the reign of the dinosaurs. It is hypothesized that such an impact disrupted the global climate of Earth by sending large amounts of dust and debris into the air. This airborne debris, like that from a modern-day volcano, blocked sunlight and changed global weather patterns. As plants withered and died due to the reduced sunlight, plant-eating dinosaurs began to starve. As the plant-eating dinosaurs died off, the meat-eating dinosaurs soon followed. Many animals also were unable to adapt to the extreme changes in temperature that they were suddenly faced with. The program concludes by pointing out that this catastrophic event of 65 million years ago was, in some respects, a fortuitous event. Some of the small mammals that lived during the age of dinosaurs survived, heralding the next chapter in the story of life on Earth -- the age of mammals. Would we humans exist if the dinosaurs weren't wiped out 65 million years ago? A brief question-and-answer period follows the presentation.
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