Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Create an Imaginary Animal

This activity is associated with the family program, Camp Croods at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Activity Description

Lion-Man figurine replica
Photo of the Lion-Man figurine replica from Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave, Germany, in the Hall of Human Origins. Smithsonian image.

Evidence of imagination in ancient human life can be seen in the Hall of Human Origins virtual tour. The Lion-Man figurine shows a half human and half lion artifact that was created about 35,000 years ago. Anthropologists think this provides evidence that ancient humans were using their imagination to create new and unique art never seen or thought of before! In "The Croods: A New Age," there were many unique imaginary animals that also mixed features from different types of animals. For this activity, you will create your own imaginative animal inspired by both the artifact and the animals from the movie.

What You Need

  • Your imagination!
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Crayons or other coloring materials


1. Gather your supplies. For this activity, you will need paper, a pencil, crayons or other coloring materials, and your imagination.

2. Make a list of features or characteristics your animal will have. On a piece of paper, you will be making two different lists: one with animal features and one with different animals. Your first list will be of animal features. Think about the following questions to help create your list:

  • Think about the size you want your animal to be. 
  • How will your animal move? Will it fly, swim, jump, or run? 
  • Think about how or what it will eat. Will it be a fierce predator or will it mainly eat plants? 
  • How might your animal protect itself or keep itself safe? Will it have a protective body covering, like a shell, or will it be able to camouflage with its surroundings? Make your list of your desired features for your new animal, and circle the features that are the most important. 

Create a table like this to help you organize your ideas.

Piece of paper with two handwritten columns: Features and characteristics, and Animals

3. Make a list of animals that have those specific features or characteristics. Reread through your list of animal features you just created. Think about animals that have some of these features, and then write down those animals.

Piece of paper with two handwritten columns: Features and characteristics (such as sharp teeth, tail, fins to swim) and Animals (such as alligator, cat, shark).

4. Choose two animals that best represent the features or characteristics your new animal will have. The artifact in the museum and the animals in the movie were created with two animals in mind. Sometimes those animals had things in common; sometimes they were very different animals. When the animals were imagined together as one new and unique animal, that animal shared features of both the different animals. Choose two animals that, if they came together as one animal, would best represent the features you want your new animal to have.

Piece of paper with two handwritten columns: Features and characteristics, and Animals, with certain words circled in each column, such as sharp teeth, tail, mosasaur, and dog.

5. Create your animal! Draw your new animal. Be sure to include all of the key features or characteristics from the original two animals in your new animal. What will you call your new animal, and what unique or special new features will it have as a result of being a combination of two different animals?

Take It a Step Further

  • Create a model or 3-dimensional representation of your new animal. 
  • Write a story starring your new animal.
  • Share your new animal with your family.
  • Share your new animals with us at the museum! Be sure to let us know all about the unique features of your new animal. You can send a picture of your new animal to

Explore More 

Resource Type
Hands-On Activities
Grade Level
K-2, 3-5
Life Science, Anthropology and Social Studies
David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins