Teacher's Guide T. REX banner

“Scavenger” Hunt
A Museum Activity

Did Tyrannosaurs rex kill Triceratops, or was Triceratops already dead when T. rex arrived on the scene?

A meat-eating animal can be a predator or a scavenger. A predator hunts, chases, and kills other animals for food. A scavenger sniffs out and eats animals that are already dead. Was T. rex a predator or a scavenger? Use your detective skills to uncover the latest facts. Remember--you must judge this case on the evidence, not on what you think you already know!

Look for the following discovery stations (the names are on the signs by each one). Do the activities, answer the questions, and then cast your ballot.

1. Crime Solvers--Look at the natural objects in the case. Which of these things tell us something about dinosaurs?

    a. mud cracks      b. petrified wood      c. footprint

2. Model--The place on an arm bone where muscles attach can tell us how much weight an animal could lift. Pull the handles on the models of the T. rex claw and the human hand. Does the human arm lift more easily?

    Yes      No

Bonus: Why or why not?

3. Experiment--Try to match each of the three teeth to the bite marks painted red. Did T. rex bite it?

    Yes      No

Bonus: Does this mean that T. rex killed Triceratops?

4. The Murder Weapon--Look at the teeth of the carnosaurs (dinosaurs that ate meat) under the magnifying glass. Are the edges of the teeth similar to the edges of steak knives?

    Yes      No

5. Chew on This--Read the label in the display case titled "Big Bites." Was T. rex's jaw strong enough to crush a car? (Of course, cars weren't around back then.)

    Yes      No

6. Well Armed--Read the wall sign. Then look at the skeleton of Saurornitholestes. Did this predator use its arms and claws to grab its food?

    Yes      No

7. Robotic T. rex--Look closely at the size of the eyes on T. rex. Are they very big compared to the size of the rest of the head?

    Yes      No

 Bonus: Which would need to have bigger eyes, a hunter or a scavenger? Why?

8. Sniff Out Clues--Read the sign. Did T. rex have a good sense of smell?

    Yes      No

Bonus: Which would need a better sense of smell, a hunter or a scavenger? Why?

9. Light-weight Contender--Examine the complete T. rex arm. Compare it to yours. T. rex was much bigger than you are. Is T. rex's arm much longer than your arm?

    Yes      No

10. Caught Empty Handed--Look at the wall sign and at the skeleton of Tyranosaurus rex. Could T. rex use its arms to catch its food?

    Yes      No

Animated cartoon T. rex

11. Speed Limit--Read both sides of the traffic sign. Then compare the two T. rex leg bones in the display case. Animals with a thigh bone longer than their shin bone were slow. Could T. rex run fast enough to overtake its prey?

    Yes      No

12. It's Time to Vote--Look carefully at the facts you have collected. Do you think there is enough evidence to prove whether T. rex was a predator (guilty), or a scavenger (innocent)? Or maybe Tyrannosaurus was a little bit of both! (hung jury)

Clues to consider
   • run fast
   • have good eyesight
   • can grasp their prey (food) with claws
   • have sharp teeth for biting meat
   • run slowly
   • have a good sense of smell
   • may be large to scare off other hunters
   • have strong jaws for crushing bones
Continue to
Carnivore Activity

Teacher's Guide | T.REX ON TRIAL | Exhibits