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Bite Me (July / August 2003)

Teacher Guide prepared by: Nancy I. Colamussi, Elementary Education, B.S., M.A., Rocky Point School District, Long Island, New York.
Teacher's Note:
This Guide contains project ideas, short answer, extended response, fill-in, and true/false with correction. The variation is designed to have the students think critically, as well as to test their comprehension. An answer key to the short answer sections can be found at the end of the guide.

Extended Response: Comprehension & Critical Thinking
The questions below can be used as written, simply answered in complete sentences, or easily transformed into longer essay (ELA) style questions, or even research topics. In any case, have the students support their answers with details from the test or use critical thinking skills to create a thorough and interesting answer. Consider the level of your students when deciding how to use the questions.

"Stones & Bones" p. 4-5
  1. What new evidence have the fossils of the Microraptor gui given scientists?
    Project: Work with a partner to draw a Microraptor gui. Use the information from the article to make it as real as you can and label the parts.
  2. Explain what scientists presume from studying the tracks on the slope of the Roccamonfina volcano.
  3. List the four possible causes of the Maya collapse. Choose the one that you think played the most significant role and write a paragraph explaining your theory.
"A Scratch Tells All" p. 6-9
  1. Explain what Jared Diamond meant when he said that the invention of agriculture was the worst mistake in the history of the Human Race. Make an agriculture pros and cons list.
  2. What information are scientists gathering from studying the dental remains from burials in Illinois?
  3. Explain the ways that teeth are a useful guide to studying health and diet.
  4. Activity: The last line of this article is a humorous saying about dental care. Make a poster with your own slogan and illustration that sends a message about taking care of your teeth.
"The Story's in the Teeth" p. 10-13
Mark the following statements TRUE or FALSE. Provide the correct answer if false.
______1. In most cases of the discovery of new fossils of hominids, species are identified on the basis of tooth size and color.

______2. Since teeth are the most durable remains, they are the most abundant indicators of extinct animals.

______3. Biologists who study evolution have been able to reconstruct the diet and feeding behavior of extinct animals by analyzing the microscopic wear patterns found on their teeth.

______4. The importance of teeth in the fossils record of hominid evolution lies in their abundance.

______5. Dog and human teeth have similar structure.

______6. Human teeth, like those of other mammals, are composed of three very durable tissues.

______7. The three durable tissues are called cementum, dentine, and roots.

______8. The shape of the jaw is what gives the tooth its effectiveness in crushing, grinding and slicing.

______9. Usually the fossilization process is non-destructive, and under ideal conditions, preserves the anatomy of the tooth.

______10. Tooth decay is the most common infectious disease in the world.
"Elephants in a Tomb" p. 16-17
  1. Explain how Zhao Mo's architects constructed his tomb.
  2. Activity: Think of materials you can use in the classroom or at home (blocks, legos, Lincoln logs, etc.) to make a model of the tomb. Use the information from the article to direct your construction.
  3. What items found in the tomb confirmed Zhao Mo's support of trade?
  4. Combine facts from the article and your imagination to create your own theory about why there were elephant tusks in the tomb.
"When Pain Ruled" p. 18-19
The ancients used toothpicks, likely made from twigs, to clean between their teeth. Toothpaste was made from various abrasive ingredients. Cavities were filled with gold, silver, wax, or gum from trees. Brainstorm with a partner to make a list of other things that the ancient civilizations could have used as substitutions for cleaning instruments, toothpaste, and cavity fillers. Keep in mind the substances that were available at this time. Be creative! Share your list with the others in your class . . . are any of your ideas the same?
"Down the Drain" p. 20-22
  1. Explain the arrangement of the business area known as the Roman Forum.
  2. What were some of the finds recovered at the Temple of Castor and Pollux?
  3. What kind of information did the archeologists gain from finding the drain filled with teeth?
  4. How did the archeologists know that the 'dentist downstairs' was good at what he did? Why was it especially important to his patients that the dentist be highly skilled in his work?
"Designer Teeth" p. 25-26
This article notes that archeologists can only guess why teeth were decorated, and then were no longer encrusted after the Maya collapse. Imagine you are an archeologist who has found ancient text explaining both of these things. Write a letter (proper friendly letter format) to your archeologist friend in the U.S. explaining what you have discovered.
"Animal Tales" p. 28-29
Read the article in its entirety and then fill in the blanks. Refer back to the text if necessary.
1. The study of the ancient use of animals by humans is called _________________.

2. Information about the life history of animals is often recorded in the _____________ and condition of teeth.

3. The ___________________ coats the root of a tooth and bonds the tooth in the tooth socket.

4. As animals cut and chew food, the enamel and dentine of the tooth's crown is slowly worn away in a process called _________________ _________________.

5. By measuring crown height and by comparing the wear on the ancient teeth with the wear on teeth of modern animals of known age, archeologists can make a good estimate of the ______________ of an animal at death.

6. The replacement of baby teeth by permanent teeth takes place in most ________________________.

7. In mammals, the first set of teeth grows into the mouth before or shortly after ___________________.

8. _________________________ teeth grow in the jaw beneath 'baby teeth' and sequentially replace them.

9. Age studies based on teeth tell archeologists that ancient hunters usually killed _____________________ animals.

10. Tooth studies of sheep, goats, cattle and pigs among ancient farmers help reconstruct __________________ practices.
"The Story's in the Teeth"
  1. False, shape
  2. True
  3. True
  4. False, durability
  5. False, ape
  6. True
  7. False, enamel
  8. False, crown
  9. True
  10. True

"Animal Tales"
  1. zooarcheology
  2. structure
  3. cementum
  4. dental attrition
  5. age
  6. mammals
  7. birth
  8. permanent
  9. adult
  10. herding

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