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Dinosaur Discoveries

Season 3

Episode 301: Solar Train

Our Pteranodon family accompanies Mr. Conductor to the Troodon Town Roundhouse to meet up with Thurston Troodon, the Rocket Train’s conductor. They all soon learn that Tricia Troodon – a younger, hotshot conductor — actually invited everyone there to see her new train – the Solar Train! The kids learn that it’s powered by the sun!  To test the trains’ performances, the three Conductors, along with the help of Buddy, Tiny, Shiny and Don, have a race to the Triassic between the Dinosaur Train, Thurston’s Rocket Train and Tricia’s new Solar Train!

Fun Fact: Solar power is the harnessing of sunlight and turning it into electricity.  Concentrated solar power uses mirrors or lenses.  Panels can be used to absorb and store sunlight.  The environmental advantages of solar power are numerous – less fuel used, less pollution generated, etc.

Episode 302: Birdwatching

Buddy and Tiny give Elliot Enantiornithine, a first timer on the Dinosaur Train, a tour of the Train.  When they go through Laura Giganotosaurus’ car, she explains to them that today is her bird watching/drawing day, but she hasn’t found a single bird to watch. But, there’s Elliot. He hams it up for Laura, who watches and draws him.  This is so fun that Buddy and Tiny bring Laura to meet another bird friend– Arlene Archeopteryx. Then Arlene and Elliot introduce the kids and Laura to a new bird named Peng Protopteryx!  It’s a successful birdwatching/drawing day as all three birds are delighted to show off their unique feathers.

Fun Fact: Protopteryx was a starling-sized bird from the Cretaceous Period. Remains of the bird were found in China’s Hebei Province. The most distinctive characteristics of Protopteryx were that it was extensively covered with feathers and could definitely fly.

Episode 303: Rocket Train Surprise Party

After Buddy, Tiny, Shiny and Don learn that it’s Mr. Conductor’s birthday, they decide to throw him a surprise party on his favorite place – the Dinosaur Train! The whole family plans the party, and even secretly rides the Rocket Train to pick up friends from all around the Mesozoic and to gather ginkgo leaves for a special birthday cake.  The party is a huge success – the Conductor is surprised and moved, and loves his tasty ginkgo leaf birthday cake.

Fun Fact: Ginkgo biloba is a tree that dates back 270 million years from the Jurassic Period and is native to China.    It is a large tree, reaching 66-100 feet with fan-shaped yellow leaves.

Episode 304: Caving with Vlad

The Pteranodon family rides the “Night Train” all the way back to the Jurassic to visit their nocturnal friend, Vlad Volaticotherium, who tells them that he wants to take them caving!  Buddy, Tiny, Shiny and Don don’t even know what caving is, but they are soon having a great time seeing all of the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites that have formed inside the cave.  They also learn that it can be a lot of fun to hear your voice echo down the cave’s long caverns!

Fun Fact: Stalagmites are limestone formations that rise from the floor of a cave.   Stalactites are tubular formations of minerals that hang from the ceiling of caves.

Episode 305: Tiny’s Fishing Friend

Tiny can’t believe it when he finds out that his friend Cindy Cimolestes doesn’t like fish, but she explains that she’s a mammal and many mammals don’t eat fish.  Determined, Tiny sets out to find a mammal in the Mesozoic who likes fish, so she, Buddy, Cindy and Dad set out on a fishing trip, where they run into Cassie Castrocauda, a Jurassic mammal that looks like a cross between a beaver, an otter and a platypus, who also happens to love fish!

Fun Fact: Castrocauda was a large beaver-platypus-like mammal from the Jurassic period.  It was covered with fur, and had webbed feet and a broad flat tail it used to swim.  It had many teeth for catching fish.  Castrocauda is the earliest known mammal discovered that lived partially in water.

Episode 306: Butterflies

One morning at the family nest, Don befriends a Butterfly that he names Dan.  Don, Buddy, Tiny and Shiny watch Dan and three “sibling” butterflies fly around. The other three butterflies flutter away, leaving Dan with our kids.  Don feels for the separated butterfly and vows to re-unite it with his siblings.  After Mom and Dad give a quick lesson about butterfly camouflage, Don leads his siblings all around the nest area searching for Dan the Butterfly’s lost “sisters and brother.”  The whole time, Don keeps an eye on Dan, who camouflages himself when any threat (birds or a frog) are nearby.  The long search doesn’t yield Dan’s siblings.  Then, at the end of the day, our family is amazed when Dan’s family comes out from hiding in a flower headband Tiny made, where they were camouflaged in with the flowers!

Fun Fact: Butterflies use their color patterns to blend in with leaves, etc. as a defense against predators.  The colorful wings are also used to attract other butterflies.  Many butterflies have eyespots on their wings that are also used to distract any possible predator.

Episode 307: Adventure Camp: Rafting

Buddy, Tiny, Shiny and Don go river rafting for the first time at Nature Adventure’s Tracking Camp.  Their old pal Jess Hesperornis meets up with them and they all learn about erosion and the importance of rivers, before finishing up their adventure by cruising through some rapids!

Fun Fact:  Rivers and streams are ribbons of water that start at some high point and flow downhill—often with streams gathering into rivers. Animals and plants living on land depend on rivers and streams for providing fresh water and nutrients.

Episode 308: Plant a Tree

The Pteranodon kids are spending the day with Grandma and Grandpa Pteranodon!  On the Dinosaur Train on the way to their grandparents’, Buddy, Tiny, Shiny and Don learn about sycamore trees. Grandma and Grandpa are so excited to have a whole day with their grandparents and doubly-excited to do a special “project” with them.  They bring the kids to a field lined with sycamore trees and show them one tall one in particular that was – Can you believe it!? – planted by their Dad when he was a kid!  Buddy, Tiny, Shiny and Don get to plant their own sycamore saplings and vow to visit their trees to track their growth as the months and years go by!

Fun Fact: Sycamores are generally tall (90-150 feet), deciduous trees that originated in the Cretaceous and have survived to the present day.

Episode 309: Adventure Camp: Tree Line

For their second outing at Nature Trackers Adventure Camp, Buddy, Tiny, Shiny, Don and other friends learn about the tree line as they set out to hike up a mountain.  Shiny is determined to get to the top of mountain forest. Buddy wonders if they’ll be able to see anything from the mountaintop, through the tall trees.  The kids are amazed that the higher they hike, the shorter trees and bushes get!  Then they reach the tree line — a certain point on the mountain, where trees are really small because they don’t have enough air to breathe and the temperature is too cold.  In the end, Shiny and all the kids use teamwork to all reach the mountaintop together!

Fun Fact: The timberline, or tree line, is a certain elevation on a mountain where the temperatures are colder, the air is thin, and the soil is less moist making it hard for most plants and trees to grow. Trees may grow as small shrubs.  The amount of oxygen is less so it’s harder for animals to breath at the tree line and above.

Episode 310: Best Ever Babysitter

Buddy, Tiny, Shiny and Don are excited that Keira Chirostenotes gets to babysit them for the night while Mr. and Mrs. Pteranodon go out for a dinner on the Dinosaur Night Train.  Keira shows the kids how a dead log’s decomposition provides food and shelter for many living creatures. Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Pteranodon are gleeful as they enjoy their date, exploring the Dinosaur Train’s other compartments.  Mom and Dad return from their date to find their kids filled with more smiles than when they left them and, later, their pillows filled with several of the little bugs from underneath the decomposing log.

Fun Fact: After a tree is felled and dies, it provides more food for insects and other creatures than when it was living.  Among the creatures that (reside under and) feed off decomposing trees are cockroaches, slugs, ants, spiders, beetles, etc.

Episode 311: Adventure Camp: Rainforest

The Nature Trackers Adventure Campers are back for another adventure and this time they’ll be travelling to a rainforest!  Once they arrive in the dense, overgrown rainforest, the campers explore different levels of the ecosystem, including the forest floor and the canopy of leaves at the top of the forest.  After a hike through the rainforest, the campers’ fun adventure culminates as each kid takes a ride on a zip line, where they all get a bird’s eye view of the entire rainforest!

Fun Fact: Rainforests are very dense, warm, wet, forests that are home to a vast array of different life forms. Rainforests get a lot of rain, at least 70 inches per year. Rainforests, often called the “lungs of the Earth,” generate much of the oxygen we breathe.

Episode 312: What’s Up with Clouds?

As the Pteranodon kids play in their family nest, Buddy stares at a sky full of clouds and asks the group, “What are clouds?”  Mr. Pteranodon and his neighbor, Mr. Lambeosaurus have different opinions.  As they all get on the Dinosaur Train, they consider whether clouds are made of water or whether they’re just made of fluff.    Tiny knows who would have the facts — Mr. Conductor! He explains that clouds are made of billions of tiny drops of water that are so light they float in the air.  He also takes the group to a stop at Cloudy Point Station where the kids play a cloud-spotting game, identifying three types of clouds they learned about: cirrus, stratus, and cumulus. In the end, a rainstorm certainly proves that clouds are made of water!

Fun Fact: Clouds are visible masses of water droplets.  There are different kind of clouds, determined by altitude and temperature.  Some of the different clouds types are cirrus, cumulus, and stratus.

Episode 313: Adventure Camp: Canyon Hiking

The Nature Trackers Adventure Campers are led by Mr. Conductor and Gilbert on a hike down a canyon, where they can see the different layers of the Mesozoic Era! At first Lily Lambeosaurus is reluctant to go, thinking that a new adventure sounds hard, but Don convinces her that a new adventure can be worth the effort. At the bottom of the canyon, the kids play Dinoball and then dig for fossils. Each Nature Tracker goes home with a “new” Ammonite fossil, and Lily is so glad she tried something new!

Fun Fact: Canyons are deep cuts in the earth’s surface.  They are formed by erosion.  Erosion is mainly caused by the flow of rivers. It takes millions of years for canyons to become the grandiose natural landmarks they are today. The bottom rocks in canyons can date back billions of years, beyond the Mesozoic. Canyons can also be formed by a shift of the earth’s tectonic plates.

Episode 314: One Big Frog

The Pteranodon kids are playing a game called “I’m the Biggest,” which raises the question: how big is the biggest frog?  Dad takes the kids on the Dinosaur Train to find the biggest frog ever, the legendary Beelzebufo. Once off the train, they have to take a river raft to find this illusive creature, but find him they do.  The kids are surprised to find that Benny Beelzebufo isn’t nearly as large (or mean) as they’d imagined, but he is definitely the biggest frog they’ve ever seen! Benny teaches the kids about his “sit-still-and-wait” hunting style and shows off his large, floating leaf “home.”

Fun Fact: Beelzebufo was a particularly large species of prehistoric frog – perhaps the largest that ever existed. It lived inthe late Cretaceous Period.  It may have grown to over 16 inches and almost 10 lbs. in size. Beelzebufo was a predator whose expansive mouth allowed it to eat relatively large prey, perhaps even juvenile dinosaurs.  Beelzebufo was not only huge, it had a protective shield and very powerful jaws.

Episode 315: Classic in the Jurassic: Turtle and Theropod Race

The Pteranodon family is super excited to be traveling to the ‘Classic in the Jurassic’, an Olympics type competition in which different dinosaur teams representing the three Mesozoic time periods will compete in various contests. Today’s competition is a race between turtle and theropod teams. When the fast running theropods all get tangled up at the finish line, the race comes down to the slow moving turtles.  It’s an exciting race as the turtles are neck and neck! Who will win this pre-historic match up?

Episode 316: Hungry, Hungry Carnivores

Buddy, Tiny and Mrs. Pteranodon are eating lunch at Pteranodon Terrace, and even though they’ve just eaten a big fish meal, Buddy’s tummy is still grumbly-hungry. Mom understands that because Buddy is a carnivore he needs meat, so she takes the kids to the Dining Car on the Dinosaur Train so Buddy can eat some carrion. While dining, Laura Giganotosaurus tells Buddy that the best meal she ever ate was prepared by her cousin, Chef Carson Carcharodontosaurus. So Buddy, Tiny, Mom and Laura all travel to meet the boisterous and generous Chef C and eat some of his famous carrion dishes. Buddy’s tummy is happily full when our family leaves to head home. They even bring back a snack for Mr. Conductor!

Fun Fact: Carcharodontosaurus was a giant theropod dinosaur closely related to Giganotosaurus that lived in Africa during the mid-Cretaceous, many millions of years before T. rex.  Carcharodontosaurus reached approximately the same lengths (40-45 feet) as T. rex but weighed tons less. Carcharodontosaurus means “sharp-toothed lizard,” and its jaws were huge, with long, blade-like, serrated teeth. Carcharodontosaurus was a “hypercarnivore,” referring to carnivores whose diets are more than 70% meat.

Episode 317: Classic in the Jurassic: Air Obstacle Race

The Pteranodon Family is excited to be going back to the ‘Classic in the Jurassic’! This time, it’s a race between pterosaurs from each of the three Time Periods. The best part—all of the family members will have a role to play in the race! Mom and Tiny will be in-air referees, Buddy and Don will do “play-by-play”, and Dad and Shiny will man the start and finish lines. It’s an exciting race as the pterosaurs fly between hanging vines, swoop through a canyon, push through a wind tunnel, slalom over and under branches, then carry food from a pond as they race to the finish line! Teddy Pterodaustro finishes first, but the race is contested when Remy Rhamphorhynchus (another competitor) protests that Teddy never retrieved a fish from the pond. Everyone is surprised to learn that Perodaustro don’t eat fish, they strain plankton through their bristle teeth. Teddy shows everyone how he does it to prove that he did indeed get food from the pond! Teddy is declared the winner!

Fun Fact: The Pterodaustro was a prehistoric pterosaur that lived in the early Cretaceous Period, 140-130 million years ago.  Its wing span stretched 8 or 9 feet. Its diet consisted mainly of plankton and small crustaceans. Pterodaustro used the bristle-like teeth of its lower jaws to strain crustaceans, plankton, and perhaps even algae from the water.  It is also the only pterosaur to use stomach stones, “gastroliths,”, to help digest food.

Episode 318: King & Crystal Live!

Buddy, Tiny and Mom are riding the Dinosaur Train when they bump into their old friend, Crystal Cryolophosaurus. She’s on her way to visit King Cryolophosaurus down in the Jurassic Antarctic and invites our family along. Mom and the kids jump at the chance, and upon arrival surprise King as he’s singing a brand new song, Top Carnivore.  King and Crystal’s heartfelt reunion is marred when Crystal tries to convince a reluctant King to take this fantastic new song out on the road to share with his adoring Mesozoic fans. But King doesn’t like leaving home and excuses himself to do some thinking. Buddy and Tiny follow and King sings a song called Good ol’ Gondwana to explain his feelings about his home. Tiny has a great idea—King and Crystal can perform a live concert in Gondwana and invite dinosaurs from around the Mesozoic to attend! The concert is a huge success, and King is surprised and delighted when Crystal decides to stay there with him instead of going back out on the road.

Fun Fact: Cryolophosaurus lived in the Jurassic Time Period, in Antarctica. But in the Jurassic, Antarctica did not exist as a separate continent. Rather it was part of southern supercontinent called “Gondwana,” composed of land that would one day break up into Africa, South America, Australia, Madagascar, India and Antarctica. Despite its polar latitude, Jurassic Antarctica was relatively warm and lush (unlike Antarctica of today). During the Age of Dinosaurs, the world was much warmer than it is today, even in the polar regions. At that time in the Jurassic Antarctica, Cryolophosaurus truly was the King – that is, the top carnivore.

Episode 319: Classic in the Jurassic: Air, Water and Land

It’s time for the ‘Classic in the Jurassic’ – the Mesozoic Olympics! Today’s “Air, Water and Land” contest is a three-part competition pitting teams consisting of a pterosaur and a crocodile from each Time Period against one another. Mrs. Pteranodon, Tiny and Shiny are recruited to help in one of the three “legs” of the race, while Buddy, Don and Dad watch from the stands. The competition’s three “legs” are flying, swimming and a lap around a track. Early on, Team Cretaceous pulls ahead and hold onto its lead, until the wild card of the race is revealed: Team Triassic’s croc, Effie Effegia who shocks the crowd when she runs, and then sprints, on two legs! Effie wins the race, and her bi-pedal abilities prompts many questions – and a healthy discussion – about her features. Tiny is disappointed her team lost, but cheers up when reminded that she was part of `Classic in the Jurassic’ history.

Fun Fact: Effigia was a 6-foot-long close relative of modern crocodiles living in the Late Triassic, resembling ostrich-mimic dinosaurs (ornithomimids.). It had a beak but no teeth, thus its diet (along with ornithomimids) has been questioned. Unlike later crocodiles, effigia , much like ornithomimids, moved on its hind legs and was likely a fast runner.

Episode 320: Desert Day and Night

While playing ‘Cold and Hot,’ a game they made up, the Pteranodon kids learn from Mr. Pteranodon that there might be more variety in the desert then they imagined. Their curiosity piqued, they plead for a trip to investigate the desert scene.  Mr. Conductor tells them just how diverse plant and animal life can be in the desert. He happens to know a desert mammal Fruitafossor. Upon disembarking from the Dinosaur Train, the Pteranodon kids meet Frankie Fruitafossor, a chipmunk-sized mammal. They quickly learn that their assumption that desert life was hot all the time and relatively uninhabited was incorrect. Come dusk, they find the desert hopping and crawling with life, as creatures emerge all over – mostly underground – where they hide from the blazing sun. Frankie gives our family a tour, including a peek at underground burrows he dug.  Back on the desert floor, Don and the siblings can’t believe how cold the desert has become. Nighttime in the desert is a different world than daytime!  The family goes back to the Dinosaur Train to warm back up and have a snack.

Fun Fact: Deserts receive low amounts of rain and tend to be home to many animals and plants with special features allowing them to thrive in such conditions. Deserts tend to be hot during the day and cold at night. Most desert animals are nocturnal, because it is easier to move around when it is not so hot. Fruitafossor is the earliest digging mammal yet known, with a pointed snout, long front claws and peg-like teeth. It thrived on eating insects.

Episode 321: Classic in the Jurassic: Ultimate Smackdown

The `Classic in the Jurassic’ games are back, and this time, it’s the Ultimate Smackdown. Mr. Conductor explains the “wrestling” matchups from the three Time Periods are: T. Rex vs. Triceratops, Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus and, Zupaysaurus vs. Riojasaurus (dinos new to the Pteranodon clan.) Fears that competitors may get injured are allayed by the explanation of how the `Smackdown’ works – the best choreographed and most entertaining show wins!  Morris Stegosaurus beats Alvin Allosaurus. When Ziggy Zupaysaurus goes up against Renaldo Riojasaurus, Mr. Conductor explains that Riojasaurus may be smaller, but has a powerful tail and speed on his side. Then Boris the T. Rex loses to Trevor Triceratops. Tank and Buddy are thrilled –what a face-off! Once the judges tally the results, Team Cretaceous is declared the winner, and the fans love it!

Fun Fact: All ecosystems on land include predators and plant-eaters. The same was true during the Mesozoic age of dinosaurs – wherever you find herbivores, you find carnivores. So throughout the Mesozoic Era, the ecosystem provided classic matchups of top carnivores vs. herbivores. In the Cretaceous period there was T. Rex vs. Triceratops; in the Jurassic, it was Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus; in the Triassic, we introduce theropod Zupaysaurus vs. the big herbivore Riojasaurus.

Episode 322: Back in Time

Buddy and Tiny start wondering aloud whether the Triassic was the beginning of time, and if there was anything before the Age of Dinosaurs. So, to the Dinosaur Train they go where Mr. Conductor takes them back to the beginning of the Triassic time period to get some answers.  In the Triassic, Buddy, Tiny, Mom, and Mr. Conductor meet up with Erma Eoraptor who is happy to explore the “before the Triassic” question with them. Our group walks through a Pedestrian Time Tunnel (that’s beyond the end of the train tracks) to get to the Permian Time Period, the time period immediately before the Triassic. There, they meet Deon Dimetrodon, who has never met a dinosaur or pterosaur before. Buddy and Tiny are amazed to learn that there are neither in the Permian (or earlier)! Deon marvels at our family’s features – especially Tiny and Mrs. Pteranodon’s wings. Deon shows our group around the hot and humid Permian, and he explains how his sail fin keeps him cool.  Then Deon is delighted to experience the Mesozioc Era. He walks through the Pedestrian Time Tunnel with our group, and is blown away by the vegetation and the variety and size of dinosaurs.  Another lifelong friendship is forged!

Fun Fact: Many animals we think are dinosaurs are not actually dinosaurs. They are mammals like us. Dimetrodon was a dominant carnivore in the Permian period, living mainly in swampy areas. Although very reptilian-like, Dimetrodon belonged to a group called “synapsids” – more closely related to mammals.

Episode 323: Zeppelin (Part I): Waterfalls

The Pteranodon kids are riding the Dinosaur Train with friend and fellow pterosaur, Quincy Queztalcoatlus. When they pass by a waterfall, Buddy comments on how big it is!  Quincy’s dad mentions a giant waterfall at the edge of the Western Interior Sea. Mr. Conductor gives a lesson about waterfalls and then suggests a unique and amazing way to view the giant falls – from above!  They can fly in the experimental Dinosaur Train Zeppelin…if Thurston Troodon will agree to take them all there on the zeppelin’s maiden voyage. Thurston does and our Pteranodon family gets to experience a spectacular zeppelin ride!  The Queztalcoatluses fly alongside, impressing everyone with their flying abilities. After learning more about waterfalls, the Pteranodons catch lots of fish and dine before heading back to the Train via the one-of-a-kind Dinosaur Train Zeppelin!

Fun Fact: A waterfall is a place where water flows over a vertical drop in the course of the stream or river. Waterfalls create their own microhabitat that tend to be very moist, humid and misty. Fish hide in the water beneath the waterfalls. Moss grows on the amp walls, and amphibians hide in the misty shadows. Many land animals come to the pools at the base of waterfalls to drink.

Episode 324: Zeppelin (Part II): Atoll

When the Pteranodon family spots Annie and her T. rex herd migrating to follow the food, the Pteranodon kids wonder if other creatures, even marine mammals, also migrate. The Conductor flies the Pteranodon family over the ocean in the Dinosaur Train Zeppelin to look for Polycotylus, a type of marine reptile that does migrate in the ocean. After spotting a pod of migrating Polycotylus from the sky, the Zeppelin lands in an atoll and our family meets Paulette and Polly Polycotylus, a mother and daughter (from what is modern-day Australia.)  Our Pteranodon kids, and Mom, Dad and the Conductor learn all about Polycotylus migration and the reptile features. Then the whole group of new friends enjoys a fish-picnic on the reef of the atoll before the Pteranodon clan heads back home in the zeppelin.

Fun Fact: Polycotylus is a genus of Plesiosaur from the Cretaceous Time Period that lived in the seas of what is today, North America, Russia and Australia.  It is believed to have migrated to find food and give birth.  Like all plesiosaurs, Polycotylus was a large marine reptile with a short tail, large flippers, and a broad body. It had a short neck and a  long head, and was about 5 metres (16 ft) long.  It had more neck vertebrae than other polycotylids.

Episode 325: Zeppelin (Part III): Pangea

When the Pteranodon kids decide to draw some maps, Don’s map of one big land mass for “the whole Mesozoic” triggers a discussion on whether the Mesozoic is “one big place that’s all connected” or comprised of a bunch of smaller, interconnected land masses. On the Dinosaur Train, the Conductor explains that millions of years ago there actually was just one big land mass called “Pangaea”!  Then, over a long period of time, it started to drift apart and form separate, smaller landmasses, or continents. Our family can’t believe it!  The Conductor offers to take the Pteranodons up in the Zeppelin and through a Sky Time Tunnel, back to the time of Pangaea. At the Zeppelin Station, they meet up with Tricia Troodon, who helps pilot the Zeppelin on their journey. Once in the sky and through the time tunnel, our family is able to see Pangaea, the one giant landmass, just as it’s starting to break apart. Then the family travels forward in time and views the continents separating more as oceans and seas move in between the land. Looking down at how their coastline looks in the Cretaceous, Buddy, Tiny, Shiny and Don all agree that seeing Pangaea breaking apart is one of the coolest things they’ve ever seen!

Fun Fact: Pangaea was a supercontinent hat existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras, forming about 300 million years ago. It began to break apart around 200 million years ago. Fossil evidence for Pangaea includes the presence of similar and identical species on continents that are now great distances apart.

Episode 326: Zeppelin (Part IV): Asteroid

As the Pteranodon kids are playing outside their nest, a few seedpods fall from a nearby tree, bonking Don on the head. This leads to a discussion about how far away things can fall from…maybe even from space??  Buddy hypothesizes that perhaps if a star came close enough, it could land on Earth!  On the Dinosaur Train, the Conductor explains that things actually do fall from space.  Big space rocks, called “asteroids”, sometimes land on Earth, and when they occasionally do, they make a biiiiig hole, called a crater. Don perks up at this—he’d love to see a crater!  So the Conductor takes the Pteranodon Family up in the Zeppelin to see a giant crater from above! On the ground, they explore the crater and find fragments of “space rocks” from the former asteroid. As evening falls and our family flies back home, the Conductor and Mom and Dad surprise the kids with a picnic dinner on the Zeppelin—hurrah!

Fun Fact: Asteroids are rocky clusters flying around outer space, often revolving around the sun. Asteroids vary in size but, even the largest,  are too small to be called planets. Many have hit earth in the past, and more may crash into our planet – and definitely into planets — in the future. That’s one reason scientists study asteroids and are eager to learn more about their numbers, orbits and physical characteristics.  Asteroids form impact craters, approximately circular depressions in the surface of a planet.  Craters typically have raised rims and floors that are lower in elevation than the surrounding terrain.

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