2. Before the Dinosaurs


Turtles are much older than we are: in fact, the ancestors of leatherback turtles lived well before the age of dinosaurs. Today, leatherback turtles are one of the most critically endangered animals on the planet. Find out what you can do to help these modern dinosaurs.

In our eighth series of the season we explore the aquarium looking for descendants of the dinosaurs. Together we use a morphological cladogram to evaluate evidence that birds may be more closely related to dinosaurs than reptiles. Then we take a closer look at one of natures giants, the leatherback sea turtle, an animal almost unchanged in 99 million years. Their special adaptation and appetite for jellyfish is now putting them at risk. We discovered why plastic bags confused for jellyfish are putting these animals on the endangered species list and how we can help them.

What did we do today?

  • we went on a scavenger hunt through the aquarium looking for possible descendants of dinosaurs. We looked at Schoona, our green sea turtle, caimans and tortoises in our Amazon, BC's very own sturgeon and the penguins!
  • Using a variety of animal artifacts we sorted them based on morphology, form and structure.
  • got up close with moon jellies and compared them to floating plastic bags
  • discovered the special adaptationsleatherback turtles have for having a specialized diet of jellyfish
  • learned how using reusable grocery and lunch bags can help keep plastic out of the ocean and out of animals stomachs

Questions to ask your Jr. Biologists

  1. How are animals alive today similar to dinosaurs from 110 million years ago?
  2. How do adaptations help animals survive a changing planet?
  3. Are dinosaurs more similar to birds or reptiles?
  4. Why are plastic bags dangerous for animals, like leatherback turtles?

See your Jr. Biologists in Action here!

Do you have questions for Club Volunteers or our Coordinator, Danika? Ask away on our Discussion Board!


Collect all disposable/single-use plastic that your household uses for a week. Look through it together and pick at least two items that you could refuse (find an alternative for), replace (find a reusable replacement), reduce, reuse, or recycle.

Learning Objectives

  • Evolutionary History of dinosaurs and their living relatives
  • Endangered Species awareness
  • Taking Action
    • Reusable plastics bags

Continue to 3. microplastics HUGE problem »

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