Questions About Dinosaurs – Part 1

As Everything Dinosaur prepares to visit Ewloe Green Primary in Flintshire, to work with the enthusiastic Year 1 children as they learn about dinosaurs, their teacher arranged to email over a set of questions that the children had prepared.

Questions from the Year 1 Children

Why do dinosaurs have spikes on their backs? Isabelle.
Why do some dinosaurs have four legs and some not? Amelia.
Why do some dinosaurs have armour? Cora.
Why do some have arms? Emily
Why do some walk in a clumsy fashion? Lily
Why do some have horns? Sorcha
Why do some only eat plants? Paige
Why do some dinosaurs fly? Emma
Why do some run really fast? Harri
Why do they fight? Lyla-Brooke
Why are some vegetarian? Isaac
Why do they have sharp teeth? Riya
Why are they all different sizes? Scarlett
Why do some have long tails? Jac
Why do some have such a long neck? Olly
Why do some have arms? Charlotte
Why do they leave footprints and how? Noah
Why do they have tails? Katelyn
Why do they have claws? Leah

Questions About Dinosaurs

That’s a lot of questions for our dinosaur and fossil experts to work through.  Some of these questions can be incorporated into our dinosaur workshops that we are preparing for the classes, but we will tackle a couple of questions here, just to help the budding young scientists as they explore life in the past.

Why Do Dinosaurs Have Claws?

Our thanks to Leah for this question.   There were lots of different dinosaurs and they all had claws of various shapes and sizes.  These claws may have originally come about to help protect the fingers and toes of the dinosaur ancestors as they walked about on land.  However, claws soon evolved into different shapes and sizes.  Some dinosaurs such as the meat-eaters, developed sharp claws on their toes and hands to help them catch their dinners, whilst other dinosaurs such as some of the plant-eaters had claws like hooves to help them as they walked along.

Even giants like Brontosaurus had a big toe claw, it may have used this claw as a weapon to keep it safe from other dinosaurs, but this claw also helped this dinosaur to walk safely across muddy ground without slipping in the same way that football boots have studs on the bottom.

Different Dinosaurs/Different Claws

PNSO Qingge the Therizinosaurus (close view).
A close-up view of the detailed head and those dangerous-looking claws on the PNSO Qingge the Therizinosaurus dinosaur model.

The picture (above) shows the huge claws on the Therizinosaurus model by PNSO.

To view this range of prehistoric animal figures: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Figures.

Cool Fact – Your fingernails are made from the same stuff as dinosaur claws (it is called keratin).

Why Do Dinosaurs Have Tails?

All the dinosaurs discovered so far had tails.  The tails of dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes.  Some dinosaurs had very long tails that they might have used as whips to help keep them safe from attacking meat-eaters.  Fast running dinosaurs used their tails to help them balance when they sprinted.  Other dinosaurs evolved tails with a bony club on the end which they could use as a weapon.  Some feathered dinosaurs even had tails that they could use to display and to show-off with, just like the tail of a peacock!

Different Dinosaurs/Different Tails

Three Rebor dinosaur tails.
A trio of Rebor tyrannosaurid dinosaur tails. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Cool Fact – Our distant ancestors had tails too.  The bump that you can feel at the bottom of your back is your tail bone (it is called the coccyx).

For Teacher

  • Can you find pictures of dinosaurs with different claws?  Can you sort them into groups?  What sort of describing words will you use for each group – sharp claws, blunt claws, big claws, small claws?
  • Look at pictures of animals alive today, can you find examples of different tails?  What might these animals use their tails for?

Visit the Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.