How Did Dinosaurs Walk
Dinosaur Activity

In this fun dinosaur activity you will learn how scientists use a dinosaur's center of gravity to determine if it walked on two legs or four legs.

Finding dinosaurs balance point, Photo by Myrna Martin
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Materials

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Paper punch
  • Nail
  • Light string
  • Nut or washer

Directions

  1. Create a picture of a dinosaur on a piece of light cardboard.
  2. You can either draw a picture of an imaginary dinosaur or copy a picture of a dinosaur for this activity.
  3. Cut the dinosaur's picture out with scissors so you just have the shape of the dinosaur.
  4. Use a paper punch to make at least two holes in the dinosaur. One toward the front end of the dinosaur and one toward its back end.
  5. Cut a piece of string about 12 inches long.
  6. Make a loop in one end of the string.
  7. Tie the other end to the nut or washer that you will be using as a weight.
  8. Slip the nail through the loop of the string. Push the nail through one of a hole in the front half of the dinosaur. Make sure the string and the cardboard hang freely.
  9. Make a pencil mark where the string touches the dinosaur's body.
  10. Repeat these steps through a hole in the back end of the dinosaur.
  11. The center of gravity of your dinosaur is where the lines intersect.
  12. If the center of gravity is over the hind legs then the dinosaur walked on two legs. If the center of gravity is forward of the hind legs it walked on four legs.
  13. If you have some plastic dinosaurs you can determine their center of gravity by tying a string around your pointer finger.
  14. Hold the plastic dinosaurs lightly at different points on their body to see where the string lies on the dinosaurs body.
  15. After you have done this several times you should be able to determine each plastic dinosaurs center of gravity.

Science behind the activity

Scientists discovered that an animals center of gravity determines whether it is bipedal (walks on 2 legs) or quadrupedal (walks on 4 legs). If a bipedal animal has a tail, like some lizards, it helps them with their balance when leaning forward and running on two legs.

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