The Right Tool for the Job
In this lesson, students will use observational evidence to make a claim about how the external features of each animal's teeth would help them eat their food.
Profile of Dire Wolf skull
View of the underside of antique bison skull.
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In this lesson plan, students will observe and compare the teeth of two fossil skulls from Ice Age Los Angeles: the dire wolf and the antique bison to further determine how an animal's teeth can tell us more about what and how that animal ate.
Students will compare two different animals to determine what they ate and how the structure and shape of their teeth helped them eat their food.
5 minutes to introduce the activity
5-10 minutes for student observations
10-20 minutes for student sketching
5 minutes to share evidence and support student claims
- Paper, journal, or notebook
- Drawing/writing utensil
carnivore, herbivore, skull, mandible
- Observe & Sketch
Take 2-5 minutes to look closely at the dire wolf mandible and sketch its teeth. Repeat with the mandible of the antique bison.
Remind students that scientific drawings do not need to be beautiful or perfect representations, but are sketches that communicate what we notice about something we're observing. Students should note the shape, size, and texture of the teeth of both animals. If they want to, they can also label the different parts of their drawings.
- The Right Tool for the Job
Teeth are crucial to surviving because they allow animals to bite and chew their food. The dire wolf, a carnivore, needs to use its teeth to ear meat, which the antique bison, an herbivore, needs to grind up lots of grass to survive. Ask students to use the evidence from their observations to respond to the following prompts:
- Describe the difference in the two kinds of teeth you observed.
- How would the shape of a dire wolf's teeth help it shear meat and crush bone?
- How would an antique bison's teeth help it grind up its food?
Common Core State Standards
Disciplinary Core Ideas:
K-LS-1-1, K-ESS2-2, K-ESS3-1, K-2-ETS1-2
Science & Engineering Practices:
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Scale, Proportion & Quantity
Stucture & Function