WEBCAST: What Tiny Fossils Explain about Big Dinosaur Ecosystems

Watch the archive of the webcast with Smithsonian paleontologist Dr. Matthew Carrano. In the show, he shares what tiny fossils can reveal that complete, large dinosaur skeletons may not.

Smithsonian Science How: What Tiny Fossils Explain about Big Dinosaur Ecosystems

Featuring Paleontologist Matthew Carrano

Meet Dr. Matthew Carrano, a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Why does he sort through drawers upon drawers of tiny fossils? Watch how Matthew pieces together the evidence of ecosystems that dinosaurs lived in. Learn what tiny fossils can reveal that complete, large dinosaur skeletons may not. Get a glimpse into technologies such as cathode ray luminescence that have made detailed analysis of tiny fossils possible. Understand how paleontologists are collaborating to map worldwide dinosaur distributions.

Watch a recording of the March 10, 2016, webcast using the player above. The show aligns with national science standards

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive in the video player above

2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


The Dinosaur Ecosystems Webcast package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-ESS1 Earth's Place in the Universe

  • MS-ESS1-4 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth's 4.6-billion-year-old-history

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

  • MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales

MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

  • MS-LS4-1 Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past
  • MS-LS4-2 Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships