Teacher's Guide T. REX banner

Scatology
California Science Standards: Investigation and Experimentation--3rd grade 5c; 4th grade 6f; 5th grade 6g, h; 6th grade 7d; Life Science--4th grade 2b; 5th grade 2c; 6th grade 5b

Background
    Scatology is the science of analyzing scat or feces. The information gained is used to determine such things as the presence of an animal and the composition of its diet. Fossilized feces (coprolites) from dinosaurs have been found and analyzed to determine the animal's diet.

Objective
    To create a sample of artificial fecal material and analyze the contents of an unknown sample.

Materials
    Paper, pencils, small trays, toothpicks or craft sticks, zip lock bags, 4-6 sets of miscellaneous food items (bread, beans, peanuts, raisins, rice, peas). Each set should contain contain different items. 4-6 "keys" showing all the possible food items.

Kokoro photo of T. rex eating

Directions
    Divide the class into 4-6 groups. Distribute a set of food items to each group, a zip lock bag, one or two pieces of bread, and a small amount of water. The bag represents an animal. It should be labeled with a number or name. Each group feeds its animal by choosing from the food items provided. They may use all or only some of the materials. They must, however, record each item used and the amount. Small pieces of bread are added to provide bulk. Add enough water to create a moist mixture. Set aside for a day to "digest". The "animals" are exchanged among groups, noting the name or number. Squeeze out the contents of the bag onto a small tray--the animal is "defecating". Dissect the scat using the toothpicks or craft sticks. Use the key to identify what the mystery animal ate and how much. Construct a graph to illustrate amounts of each food item eaten. Check answers with the group that originally fed the "animal."

See additional information on coprolites

Photo © 2002 Kokoro Dinosaurs
Continue to
Activity Answers

Teacher's Guide | T.REX ON TRIAL | Exhibits