Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Homebrew Dino Skeletons from Chickens

Here at Casa ModSchooler, we're embarking on another ambitious project involving lots of assembly. Using mere chicken bones, we will attempt to create a reproduction miniature T. Rex skeleton. The instructions - from how many birds it'll take and how to collect the bones, to how to actually put them all together - are found in the book T. Rex To Go, by Christopher McGowan.

McGowan has another book with instructions for making an Apatosaurus skeleton from chicken bones, Make Your Own Dinosaur From Chicken Bones: Foolproof Instructions For Budding Paleontologists. I have that book on order, and if the T. Rex project works we'll go ahead and give the Apatosaurus a shot.
In part 1 of T. Rex To Go, McGowan introduces the question of dinosaurs being related to modern-day birds, and illustrations are clear. The content is advanced for elementary and middle school levels, but could be useful as read-alouds, or parental background. High schoolers should find it challenging, but not too difficult.

We are using the 1999 first edition, so the latest findings about T. Rex DNA having chicken proteins are not included, and some of the debates included in the book are now pretty much settled in favor of the bird/dino connection. Still, it's a useful section as it lays out arguments both for and against, and gives a real-world depiction of how the scientific peer community tests and challenges itself when investigating new ideas.

We'll be collecting the bones, and prepping as our first step. McGowan helpfully includes several chicken recipes to speed the process of collection. As we go along, we'll post updates and pictures of our progress. Time to fire up the barbeque!