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Dinosaur Discoveries

Season 2

Episode 201: Dinosaur Big City Part I/Dinosaur Big City Part II

Dinosaur Big City Part I
Buddy and the Pteranodon family begin their journey on the Dinosaur Train, gathering all their Theropod friends together to travel to a really big Theropod Club Convention which is being held in Laramidia, the “Dinosaur Big City”!

Fun Fact: Laramidia was an island continent that existed during the Late Cretaceous period, when the Western Interior Seaway split the continent of North America in two.

Dinosaur Big City Part II
The Pteranodon family continues their journey to the Theropod Convention in Laramidia, the Dinosaur Big City! Among the Theropod dinosaurs that ride the Train with them is King Cryolophosaurus, who sings his songs “Big Ol’ Whistle-Stop Rock-n-Roll Dinosaur Tour” and “Whole Lotta Theropods”!

Fun Fact: Theropods were a large classification of carnivorous dinosaurs that had three-toed feet, lots of teeth, a long tail for balancing, and a great sense of smell!

Episode 202: Dinosaur Big City Part III/Dinosaur Big City Part IV

Dinosaur Big City Part III
The Dinosaur Train arrives in Laramidia, the Dinosaur Big City, and Buddy and the Pteranodon family explore the crowded “dinosaur metropolis.” At the Theropod Convention, our kids reunite with Annie Tyrannosaurus and her parents Dolores and Boris, and they all meet the multi-horned mayor, Mayor Kosmoceratops!

Fun Fact: Kosmoceratops is a genus of herbivorous dinosaurs which lived during the Late Cretaceous period on the island continent Laramidia that is now Utah, United States. Kosmoceratops is distinguished by an ornate skull – 15 horns – the most ornate of any known dinosaur.

Dinosaur Big City Part IV
Buddy and Tiny help King Cryolophosaurus overcome his fear of performing in front of his biggest audience ever, and he wows a large dinosaur audience when he sings his new song, “Whole Lotta Theropods” at the Theropod Convention in Laramidia, the Dinosaur Big City.

Fun Fact: Laramidia, the island continent that existed during the Late Cretaceous period, when the Western Interior Seaway split the continent of North America in two, was home to a very diverse number of dinosaur species, including many theropods.

Episode 203: Stargazing on the Night Train/Get Into Nature!

Stargazing on the Night Train
The Pteranodon family rides a special ‘Night Train” to another part of the Cretaceous Time Period, where they meet a Troodontid “cousin” of the Conductor’s, Sidney Sinovenator, who knows more about the stars than anyone. Sidney takes the family up to his favorite stargazing spot, “Starry Hill,” and teaches the kids why the stars seem to move across the night sky.

Fun Fact: The stars we see in the night sky are actually suns like our own sun, but they appear to us as tiny pinpoints of light because they are so far away from us. The stars we see in the night sky change over the course of the night, because the earth rotates as it travels around the sun.

Get Into Nature!
When the kids build their own version of a nest on the beach, below their actual family nest up on the cliff, they get the idea to turn their beach nest into a clubhouse. Shiny thinks that a clubhouse needs a club, and “the Nature Trackers” club is born! The kids decide to make their club about getting outside, getting into nature, and making new discoveries. The only problem is: which kid is in charge of the club?

Fun Fact: The kids learn more about exploration: we see them exploring their native place, asking lots of questions, and mulling over answers. Making collections of the things you find is a part of that nature exploration.

Episode 204: Shiny and Snakes/Tiny Loves Flowers

Shiny and Snakes
Shiny gets over her fear of snakes when Tiny challenges the Nature Trackers to meet the ultimate snake: the Sanajeh, a huge Cretaceous snake from what is now India. Dad takes the kids on the Dinosaur Train to find Sana Sanajeh, who may be huge, but turns out to be quite friendly. Once Shiny and Sana become friends, Shiny returns home with the knowledge that snakes aren’t scary – they’re just another part of nature!

Fun Fact: Many children (and adults) are afraid of any and all snakes, and even think of them as “evil” creatures. This episode teaches that most snakes are not harmful to us — and even do many things to help the natural world.

Tiny Loves Flowers
Tiny is horrified when her favorite buttercups all wilt, so Mom takes her and the family to the Big Pond, where she remembers seeing a whole lot of buttercups in bloom. On the way there, the Conductor gives the kids a visual lesson in “Nature’s Life Cycle,” explaining how a flower grows, blossoms, then wilts, and returns its seeds to the ground, to start the cycle all over again. Tiny finds her flowers at the Big Pond, both blooming and wilting, and can see nature’s life cycle in action.

Fun Fact: Tiny and the kids learn about the plant life cycle and what flowers needs to survive – how they take energy from their environment and change it from one form to another; how they convert sunlight, water, and nutrients in the dirt into something beautiful to look at and smell.

Episode 205: Buddy Explores the Tyrannosaurs/Rainy Day Fight

Buddy Explores the Tyrannosaurs
Buddy, an adopted T. rex, wishes he knew more about his T. rex ancestors. So, Dad takes him and Tiny on the Dinosaur Train back to the early Cretaceous, to visit an ancestor: an earlier version of Tyrannosaurus rex called Raptorex. Rodney Raptorex is a kid who won’t grow up to be as big as Buddy will, but the two boys find that they not only have a lot of differences, they have a lot in common, too.

Fun Fact: There were many other types of tyrannosaurs that came before T. rex. And many of these species died out before Buddy’s time. The giant T. rex evolved from ancestors that were small-bodied, long-armed, covered with feathers, and not much bigger than Velociraptor.

Rainy Day Fight
The kids are stuck cooped up in the nest for a long, rainy spell which leads to them fighting. Mom tells them that the rain has stopped enough that they can leave the nest – but she gives them an assignment: to go find their own “calm space,” where they can calm down enough to get along with each other again. It works – each kid finds something in nature that helps him or her to calm down and be friends again.

Fun Fact: After the kids have a fight, Mom sends each kid out (into nature of course) to find their calm space, and in doing so, make observations about nature that increases their connection to nature. The kids model fun ways that children can go outside and interact with nature. This story clearly makes the connection between nature exploration and emotional well-being.

Episode 206: That’s Not a Dinosaur/Tiny’s Garden

That’s Not a Dinosaur
The kids visit the Big Pond to attend the Biome Block Party. While attempting to win the leaf-necklace contest, Keenan Chirostemotes claims the Pteranodon sibs can’t compete for the prize for “dinosaur” with the most leaves because they are not dinosaurs. This launches the kids into a song called “That’s Not a Dinosaur”, as all the non-dinosaurs sing their piece. In the end, the game rules are changed to include all creatures, even non-dinosaurs, in all the contests!

Fun Fact: Too often, kids and adults focus only on the big, obvious inhabitants of any ecosystem. The goal of this episode is to concentrate on the diverse categories of animals—reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish, insects, arachnids (spiders), etc. that lived in the Mesozoic alongside the huge dinosaurs.

Tiny’s Garden
The Nature Trackers go on a visit to the Big Pond, where Tiny hopes to see her favorite flowers. The Conductor tells her that if the kids gather seeds at the pond, they can bring them home and plant a garden full of those same flowers at the family nest! The kids all get into it, gathering seeds and bringing them home, where they plant a garden, and meet its new inhabitants, including Sammy, a friendly slug, who explains that slugs, spiders, and butterflies all help to make a garden complete.

Fun Fact: Life loves diversity! Successful ecosystems are diverse, with lots of different plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria. All the diverse parts act like a web, supporting each other. We show “diversity” in the garden – and show how insects are attracted to flowers, and how flowers provides food for various herbivores, etc.

Episode 207: The Earthquake/Nursery Car

The Earthquake
Mom takes the kids on a playdate with Tank Triceratops to the desert, where they meet a distant relative of Tank’s, an early Ceratopsian named Penelope Protoceratops. The Conductor points out that Penelope lives in a part of the world that gets a lot of earthquakes, and sure enough, the kids experience their first quake with Penelope. Mom and the Conductor have prepared the kids with excellent advice about what to do in an earthquake, so everyone does fine.

Fun Fact: Protoceratops belongs to one of the major groups of plant-eating dinosaurs, called ceratopsians, which also included Triceratops and Protoceratops. The surface of the earth is divided up into big chunks, called “plates,” that move around, carrying the continents with them. So the world we see today is very different from the world the dinosaurs lived in.

Nursery Car
When the family rides the Dinosaur Train, they learn that a new car has been added – a Nursery Car, with dozens of eggs in little, padded nests, attended by their expectant moms and dads. The kids watch the eggs hatch, and try to guess which hatchling goes with which dinosaur parent.

Fun Fact: Aftershocks are small earthquakes that occur following a major earthquake. They happen when the Earth’s crust adjusts to the effects of the main shock. Even giant dinosaurs hatched from relatively small eggs, but egg size is limited by restrictions on shell thickness. The shell must be thin enough to allow air to pass through tiny holes in the shell called “pores.”

Episode 208: The Forest Fire/The Lost Bird

The Forest Fire
When a forest fire comes to woods not far from the family nest at Pteranodon Terrace, the family takes the Dinosaur Train to visit a nearby area where a fire has already been, and the Conductor leads the kids on a Nature Tracker hike through the woods to see how new life is growing back – even after the forest fire’s devastation.

Fun Fact: Forest fires play a role in helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Fires can help the ecosystem of forests by reducing overpopulation of trees – allowing existing trees to grow larger; and cause some seeds to sprout – the seeds of lodgepole pines, for example (found in Yellowstone) will only open after they are exposed to fire.

The Lost Bird
Buddy and Tiny ride the Dinosaur Train for a playdate with their old friend Petey Peteinosaurus, and learn that the train has added a new Aviary Car, for their various flying passengers. Suddenly, they are joined by a lost bird named Judy Jehelornis, who was displaced by the recent forest fires, and can’t remember where her home is. Buddy, Tiny, and Petey act as detectives to figure out from clues where Judy’s home is, and the Conductor makes sure she’s brought safely home on the train.

Fun Fact: Jeholornis was a very primitive Mesozoic bird from the Early Cretaceous, found in what is now China. It was the size of a turkey, and scientists believe Jeholornis had pretty muscular wings but probably couldn’t flap them, speculating that the bird was a very strong glider!

Episode 209: Dry Times at Pteranodon Terrace/Big Misty Sea Fishing Contest

Dry Times at Pteranodon Terrace
When the weather has been extremely dry for several weeks, all the water holes at Pteranodon Terrace dry up. The Lambeosaurus family decides to move away in search of water, which upsets the kids. Dad and Mom decide to take the kids to the Big Pond on a camping trip, where they will wait out the drought and return home when it rains again. Don doesn’t want to leave his home, even temporarily, and decides to perfect a “rain dance” that will make the rain return.

Fun Fact: Weather changes from year to year, sometimes getting hotter and drier, sometimes colder and wetter. Drought is an extended period (months or years) with minimal rain that makes it very tough for the plants and animals of a given region. Some animals, like insects, do just fine during droughts because they require less water.

Big Misty Sea Fishing Contest
Dad learns that he’s been chosen to compete in the big annual Fishing Contest at the Big Misty Sea, and is one of three contestants. The whole family rides there on the Dinosaur Train to cheer Dad on. They learn that the contestants are Dad, the Old Spinosaurus, and Dad’s childhood friend and rival, a huge raptor named Marco Megaraptor. The three all end up fighting over Chester, the legendary biggest fish in the Big Misty Sea.

Fun Fact: Big carnivorous animals use a variety of specialized features and behavioral strategies to catch their prey. We contrast these different strategies between different dinosaurs as they each attempt to catch the biggest fish.

Episode 210: Hurricane at Pteranodon Terrace/ Rafting the Cretaceous

Hurricane at Pteranodon Terrace
The long-awaited rains finally return to Pteranodon Terrace, but grow into a huge rainstorm that grows even bigger – into a hurricane! Dad hasn’t seen it blow like this since he was a kid. They seek shelter, and Don discovers an entrance to a cave below their nest, where not only the Pteranodons, but also their other neighbors, the Lambeorsaurus family and Cindy Cimolestes, all take shelter for the night. In the morning, the storm has passed, but everyone must pitch in to rebuild their various nests.

Fun Fact: Hurricanes are powerful storms that start over warm (tropical) ocean water but can move inland, causing high winds, torrential rains, flooding, and much damage.

Rafting the Cretaceous
The family is cleaning up the mess left over from the hurricane, and discover that a raft of logs has washed up two refugees from across the Western Interior Sea – a turtle named Aidan Adocus, and a small mammal named Tommy Ptilodus. Our family learns of their adventure, crossing the sea in the storm, and washing up at Pteranodon Terrace. They decide to take their new friends to the Dinosaur Train, and ride back with them to their home in Appalachia.

Fun Fact: Land animals occasionally, and accidentally, move between landmasses across large stretches of ocean. Sometimes their descendants manage to survive in the new home, forever changing the make-up of the animals living there. Scientists use the concept of “rafting” to explain how some animals are transported over water from one location to another.

Episode 211: Haunted Roundhouse/Big Pond Pumpkin Patch

Haunted Roundhouse
Dad takes the kids on a special Night Train to Troodon Town, where the Troodons have decorated their Roundhouse into a “haunted house” for a spooky party. The kids end up meeting a strange new nocturnal creature – a mammal named Vlad Volaticotherium, who was hiding in the roundhouse trying to get some sleep.

Fun Fact: There were many small, nocturnal mammals with great hearing, like Volaticotherium, that lived alongside dinosaurs. Volaticotherium was an egg-laying, flying squirrel-like critter.

Big Pond Pumpkin Patch
The Pteranodon family learns more about the customs of their neighbors, the Lambeosaurus family, when they are invited for the first time to accompany them to the Big Pond to celebrate “Gourd Day” – a kind of Mesozoic Halloween. The kids see their first pumpkins, and Larry Lambeosaurus even shows our family how to hollow them out and carve faces into them.

Fun Fact: A gourd has seeds in the middle, and is a fruit, not a vegetable. We learn about the Autumn Moon, a very full moon that occurs around the time of the Autumnal Equinox, a 24 hour period when day and night last approximately an equal amount of time.

Produced by: Support from:
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