The Ultimate Teacher’s Guide: Dinosaurs in Spanish
Dinosaurs in Spanish speaking countries are as popular as they are in most parts of the world. Playing while learning about dinosaurs is an experience a lot of kids remember from their childhood! Plastic dinosaurs, chalk fossils and rubber eggs that grow into a scary T-rex when left on a water cup are just some of the toys that kids are still enjoying after all these years. These toys were not only fun, but also educational. The powerful impressions toys and play leave on kids is not to be underestimated. After a great time playing with and looking at fossils, you might inspire someone to become a paleontologist when they grow up.
Learning about dinosaurs is learning about our planet’s history. Believed to exist around 245 million years ago, these ancient beasts often hold clues that unveil the mysteries of a bygone age. Today is Dinosaur Day, so we’ll take time to celebrate these huge reptiles and learn a thing or two about the world of dinosaurs in Spanish!
Brief History of Dinosaurs
The first ever record of a dinosaur fossil was written in the 17th century by Robert Plot, a curator who found a femur fragment that was unusually large. It seems weird that humans took such a long time to find such a thing, right? Actually, it’s very likely that people found many fossils before that, but they didn’t recognize them as the remains of an ancient creature.
As a matter of fact, Robert Plot though that the femur piece he found came from a giant human! It would take hard work and ingenuity to develop the science that allowed us to understand the origins and lifestyles of these gargantuan creatures.
In the following centuries, people kept an eye out for big bone findings, and as more bones were discovered, similarities between them were found too. In the XVIII century, British anatomist Richard Owen proposed that these animals had bone structures that made them different from other reptiles. And so he coined the term “dinosaurus,” meaning “terrible lizard” to describe these animals as we know them today.
Incorporate Dinosaur Day Into Your Spanish Classroom!
A tried and true method of teaching language is through constant exposure to vocabulary. Some of the best English curricula in Guatemala have students learn seven new words every day since kindergarten. They start out with simple examples such as fox, box, socks, etc. before moving on to increasingly complex vocabulary. You can make use of this method dynamically by relating the assigned words to current events, such as Dinosaur day! Take advantage of this day to teach about paleonyology, nature, and dinosaurs in Spanish.
How to Translate Every Dinosaur Name
The good news is that in order to figure out a dinosaur’s name in Spanish, all you have to do is replace the suffix “-saur” with -saurio. Most other dinosaur names are exactly the same! Brontosaurus translates to Brontosaurio, Titanosaur translates to Titanosaurio, and T-rex translates to… T-rex! Here’s some more dino-related vocabulary:
Fun fact: did you notice how “feet” translates as pata and not pie? That’s because in Spanish, pata is used for animals and pie for humans.
Since a lot of these were discovered and named in the U.S., Spanish has adopted English dinosaur names for the most part. However, paleontology is more than just dinosaurios, so let’s look at some useful vocabulary for your class.
|Ice Age||La Era de Hielo||eh-rah deh yehl-oh|
|Sabertooth||El Tigre Dientes de Sable||tee-greh dyen-tess deh sah-bleh|
|Tar pit||El Pozo de Brea||poh-soh deh breh-ah|
Famous Dinosaur Museums in the United States
In the United States, there are many places to go and see dinosaurs. This is a great opportunity for your students to research and learn about dinosaurs in Spanish, maybe their Biology teacher will want to team up with you to make a fun field trip and have the students learn about Earth’s distant past in the process.
I personally visited the Field Museum before and I loved it! It’s a great place to go to. I highly recommend you check it out. The Field Museum is home to many archaeological and paleontological discoveries such as Sue, the T-rex fossil with the most bones ever found, with 90% of them preserved and intact! They have a whole section of the museum dedicated to dinosaurs, and another one dedicated to Sue.
Wyoming Dinosaur Center
The Wyoming Dinosaur Center is a great place to go this time of year. While we can’t be there physically due to the global pandemic, they actually offer virtual field trips of the museum with dinosaur experts over video chat! This is a great opportunity to team up with some teachers and shake things up to give students a different experience and learn about dinosaurs in Spanish in one fell swoop.
The museum also offers class resources and a repertoire of dinosaur-related activities for your students to have fun with. This is a great opportunity to get them to learn some interesting facts about dinosaurs in Spanish. However, the tours are all in English, so make sure to leave a Spanish related assignment in the end, like translating some notable words said during the tour.
La Brea Tar Pits
La Brea Tar Pits is one of the most active paleontology research sites that exist today. “La Brea” is actually Spanish for tar! This museum consists of several tar pits that acted as a graveyard to ancient unsuspecting animals that would get caught in the sticky stuff and die of starvation. Sometimes predators would spot an “easy target” stuck in the tar and get stuck themselves! This is why La Brea has so many specimens to discover, but that’s not all they offer.
Since the sticky tar has completely covered some of these animals, paleontologists have found these to be some of the best preserved fossils they’ve ever encountered. To this day, many things wait to be found in the tar pits for paleontologists to work and learn more about nature. They even have a fishbowl style lab where you can watch real scientists in action! If I were in their shoes, I’d probably get some stage fright from seeing so many passing tourists.
National History Museum
The National History Museum in Los Angeles is home to one of the tiniest predators of prehistoric times. This tiny dinosaur skull was discovered inside a 99 million year old amber stone. That’s crazy! 99 million years is way more than I could ever fathom. The dinosaur they found was named Oculudentavis, or “eye-tooth-bird.” It’s hard to imagine a predatory hummingbird with teeth and a head the size of your thumb to be harmful. However, it’s nice to think that not all dinosaurs are a threat to us! Now we can start working on bringing them back by using their DNA! I’m sure that’ll turn out well.
Cast or Bone?
You might be asking yourself: if Sue is the dinosaur with the most bones ever found, how come I see full dinosaur models in museums all the time? Well, that’s because of a process called casting. Casting is done because fossils are very rare, and even if they find one, the chances of getting the bones intact is enough to break more than just a sweat.
Through modern methods of scanning, 3D printing, and photogrammetry, scientists are able to deduce how each creature’s bones were built, but the fossil has to have enough information for them to achieve that. This means that even if a dinosaur model at the museum is a cast, you can confidently expect that the cast is the most accurate representation of the dinosaur that science can give us.
Another benefit of casts is that they allow people from all over the world to see an identical representation of actual dinosaur bones! There have been many mounted casts of Sue the T-rex that have been used on display and for teaching all around the world.
Learn About Dinosaurs in Spanish!
Dinosaurs are a very popular theme with young boys and girls. I remember my best friend told me how happy she was when she got a bucket of plastic dinos for her 6th birthday. These strange creatures let us know that life on Earth has been present for longer than what our brains can comprehend, but by studying and learning about them we can get at least an inch closer to understanding the world we live in. If you want to learn more Spanish vocabulary related to dinosaurs, nature or vocabulary, you can take a free class with us today!
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