Friday, November 27, 2009


I'm certain that students would be fascinated and amazed to learn of the possibility that the mighty dinosaurs could fall victim to a parasite. Scientist believe that Sue, a famous Tyrannosaurus Rex, skeleton reveals that the holes discovered on her jaw are not combat wounds made at the hands of another dinosaur. It is believed that the holes may have come from infection by a tiny parasite and that infection may have killed the mighty dinosaur. In Sue's case, the guilty parasite is called Trichomonas. Different kinds of Trichomonas still live on the Earth today but the type that killed Sue is no longer in existence. A Trichomonas infection inside a dinosaur is not a good thing. The infection can cause tissues to swell and block the throat. It can also cause the jaw to rot - and leave holes in the bones. These symptoms would be bad news for a T. Rex with a nasty Trichomonas infection. Unable to swallow food, the dinosaur would eventually die of thirst or starve. Scientists aren't sure how the T. Rex caught the parasite. Perhaps it ate an infected animal.

Lesson Uses: Students could research some parasite-borne diseases and report on how parasites infect their hosts and how people are trying to reduce infection rates. Students could use the National Geographic Parasites Web site to locate information. Assign groups to research one of the parasite-transmitted diseases. Give them a set of pre-determined questions to answer in relation to their parasite/disease. For example: Where does this disease occur? Which parasite spreads this disease? How is the disease transmitted? What actions are being taken to eradicate this disease?

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