Sizing up the Supersize Croc
Procedures for Teachers

Time for Completion: 30 Minutes

The purpose of this activity is to pique students’ interest and build background knowledge about supercrocs.

  1. Tell students that Alfred Felix de Lapparent, a French paleontologist, discovered fossilized teeth and armor plates of a giant crocodile while on several prospecting missions to the Sahara in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Explain to students that they are going to compare the structure of the human skull and skeleton to that of a sarcosuchus imperator, better known as a supercroc.
  2. Divide the class into groups of five or six students. Give each group a copy of the “Compare the Facts” worksheet. Ask students to work together to answer the questions on the worksheet. Students may use the Internet or informational books to complete this activity.
  3. After students have completed the questions, involve the students in a discussion about the similarities and differences of human and crocodile skeletal structures.

STEPS

Activity One

Time for completion: 50 Minutes

In this activity students will examine how ratio can be used to estimate the size of crocodiles and humans.

  1. Divide the class into groups of four or five students. Give each group a measuring tape and each student a copy of the “How do Supersize Crocs Measure Up?” organizer. Ask students to complete “Part One” of the organizer. Teacher Note: Before beginning the activity, review the technique for measuring arm span and height with your students.
  2. Tell students how naturalists sometimes use ratios to determine the size of living animals and to estimate the size of previously living animals from their skeletal remains. Watch the “Supersize Crocs” program from 9:57 to 13:03. Discuss how they used measurement to estimate the size of crocodiles in the wild.
  3. Ask students to return to their groups and complete “Part Two” of the organizer. After students have completed the activity, involve students in a discussion about the results. You may also want to emphasize how ratio can be used in practical applications.

Activity Two

Time for completion: 2 50-minute class periods. (Completing the “B” and “AVB” sections of the diagram and writing the summary could be completed as a homework assignment.)

In this activity, students will compile information into Venn diagrams to analyze the similarities and differences between the bodies of crocodiles and humans.

  1. Watch the “Supersize Crocs” program from 7:16 to 9:31. Discuss the similarities between the bodies of crocodiles and humans.
  2. Send students to the crocodile anatomy section of the Nature website. Pass out copies of the “Crocodile and Human Comparison” Venn diagrams. Ask students to complete a “Crocodile and Human Comparison” diagram for the following sections on the Nature interactive: stomach, jaw muscles and teeth, nostrils and heart. Teacher Note: For this activity you may assign all of the sections mentioned above to each student or assign specific sections to each student.
  3. Explain to students that they are going to create a separate diagram for each part of the anatomy that they research. Ask students to label the diagram with the name of the body part for which they are recording information. Tell students to record information about the crocodile in the “A” section of the diagram. After students have completed the crocodile section of the diagram, have them research how the same part functions in humans and record the information in the “B” section of the chart. After students have completed both the “A” and “B” sections of the chart, have students determine the common properties shared by both crocodiles and humans and record them in the “A V B” section of the diagram.
  4. After students have completed the diagrams, ask them to write a paragraph that summarizes the differences and commonalities of the functionality of the crocodile and human body part.
  5. As a class, look at the remaining sections of the Nature interactive including the palatal valve, osteoderms, tail, claws, eyes and protective (third) eyelid, and the integumentary sense organs. Involve students in a discussion about how these body parts may have helped the crocodile survive on the earth for millions of years and to grow to extraordinary sizes when humans didn’t hunt them in large numbers.

Assessment Suggestions

The “Compare the Facts” worksheet, “How do Supersize Crocs Measure Up?” organizer, and “Crocodile and Human Comparisons” diagrams may be used to assess these activities.

Extension Activity

In this activity students will use ratio and grids to create a supersize croc.

Have students print a photograph of a crocodile and draw a ½ inch grid over the picture. Ask students to draw a two-inch grid on the 18 x 24 piece of paper. Have students draw a supersize croc by recreating the lines found in the ½ inch grid box in the 2-inch grid box in the same coordinates on the larger piece of paper.

Teacher Note: The “Crocodile Photo Gallery” section of the Florida Museum of Natural History has a selection of photographs that may be used for this activity.

http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/natsci/herpetology/crocs/crocodilephotos.htm 

About the Author

Laurel Blaine is founder of Digital Narratives LLC, a curriculum design company. In addition to content development, Digital Narratives also works with young people to enhance their literacy skills as they explore the power of digital storytelling. Over the past decade, Laurel has created educational materials for a diverse range of clients including The Kennedy Center, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Learning Matters/Listen Up! and Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum.

 

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