Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

How Fossils Explain the Rise of Dinosaurs


  • Title:How Fossils Explain the Rise of Dinosaurs
  • Air Date:October 8, 2015
  • Series: Smithsonian Science How webcasts, which are designed to connect natural history science and research to upper-elementary and middle-school students.

This video features Dr. Hans Sues, a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History. While you may be familiar with the asteroid strike 66 million years ago that ended the dinosaur reign, have you ever wondered what started it? Find out more about the mass extinction event 200 million years ago that opened the door for dinosaurs to dominate life on land. Join Hans Sues in exploring what else lived in the Triassic landscape and how the dinosaurs rose to prominence. Examine the fossil evidence that dinosaurs might not have diversified so much were it not for the cataclysmic event that ended the Triassic.

Teaching Resources

Triassic Life, Extinction, and Recovery

National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Earth Science

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.

Life Science

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.
Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
Learning Standards
Next Generation Science Standards
Earth Science, Life Science, Paleontology