Kids become bone pathologists for dinosaurs in new lab

LSC News

A dinosaur broke a bone, and in our special new lab “Dinosaur Tale: Make No Bones About It,” you’ll investigate how it happened!

Located in LSC’s Our Hudson Home exhibition, this experiment allows you to meet a Maiasaura dinosaur that broke one of its tail bones. Since we can’t time-travel back to the age of the dinosaurs, we’ll have to figure out how the bone broke by using bone pathology.

A young learner explores the science behind bone pathology

Bone pathologists study marks left behind on bones when animals heal from an injury or disease.

When a bone breaks, blood rushes to the area to protect and deliver new cells. As the new cells repair the break, a callus made of spongy bone forms. Later, a hard shell of compact bone cells called “osteons” covers the callus.

In this experiment, young learners examine a Maiasaura tail bone with a larger bump caused by a callus, and view osteons through a microscope. They then repair a bone with clay, replicating how a callus forms to repair broken bones!

Viewing osteons through a microscope

Next, some physics: young learners use a compression machine to apply force to sticks of different shapes and sizes. This helps them understand it would take a lot of force to break the Maiasaura’s bone.

Using a compression machine to break sticks

And then, the young learners apply their new knowledge, using toy dinosaurs to tell a story of how the Maiasaura might have broken its tail. Was it attacked by a hungry carnivore? Did a rock fall from a cliff and hit the dinosaur? Maybe it had a fight with another member of its herd...

Telling a dinosaur story

Using bones to tell stories --it’s just like being a forensic scientist, but for dinosaurs!

Want to learn more about the Maiasaura? Dig one up this summer in Jack Horner’s Dino Dig! Be sure to stop by June 29 – July 7 for our Dino Days of Summer kickoff event, when the entire building is filled with dinosaur adventures and activities!

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