Click on the picture to the right to see an x-ray of the
The human skeleton has many of the same functions as the skeletons of
other animals you have studied. The skeleton supports the body and gives
it shape. It protects body organs such as the heart and lungs. The
skeleton also allows movement. Muscles are attached to the bones and pull
them allowing the bones to move. The bones act as a warehouse for the body
storing minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. These minerals make
the bones hard. The bones also act as a factory producing blood cells to
transport oxygen, fight disease-causing bacteria, stop bleeding, and replace
worn out cells. The human body contains 206 bones!
Dissecting an owl pellet is a great way to reinforce your knowledge
of our skeletal system. When an owl catches its prey, it swallows the animal
whole. The owl cannot digest the fur and bones so its body separates
the bones and fur from the fleshy meat parts. The meaty parts proceed further
into the digestive system and the bones and the fur are compacted together
and cast (spit) out. There are an average of 2-3 animals
per pellet. This owl pellet investigation is much more meaningful if you
know the names of the major bones in the human skeletal system.
In this webQuest, you will take a virtual tour of our skeletal system,
practice labeling some of the major bones, compare our bones to those of
a rodent and bird, and explore an owl pellet in your classroom.
OWL PELLETS ARE A GREAT COMPLIMENT TO THE STUDY OF THE HUMAN SKELETAL
SYSTEM. IF YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO GET OWL PELLETS FOR THE CLASS, OR ARE NOT
INTERESTED IN THAT ACTIVITY, THERE IS STILL PLENTY OF GOOD INFORMATION
SOLELY ON THE HUMAN SKELETAL SYSTEM. JUST SKIP TASKS 3 AND 4.
1. Students will describe the functions of the skeletal system.
2. Students will list and describe the structure of bones.
3. Students will be able to identify and label the major bones of the
4. Students will compare the bones of the human skeleton to the bones
of a vole and a bird.
5. Students will further their understanding of bone structure by dissecting
an owl pellet and labeling the rodent and bird bones found.
6. Students will create a bar graph representing the number of each
bone found in the pellet.
Computers with Internet access and Web Browsers (one computer
for every two students). Or an LCD connected to the teacher's computer.
This WebQuest requires serveral plug-ins from Shockwave.
These include Macromedia's - Shockwave
Choose your operating system and Browser, download them and install
them.. Use the links from the line above to get the plug-ins.
It is also necessary to at least one printer.
Owl pellet dissection supplies
Owl pellets and teacher resources may be purchased through Mountain
Home Biological, Box 277, White Salmon, WA 98672 www.pelletlab.com
Paper plates snack size baggies
Knitting needles or toothpicks
Pencil / Writing Utensil.
#1: Enter The
Bone Zone Record notes as you learn about the skeletal
Describe the functions of the skeletal system.
Describe and illustrate the structure of bones.
Describe at least 10 of the major bones of the body.
Take a quiz and then enjoy some jokes.
#2: Test your knowledge of the human skeleton.
to see what you know! See how many bones you can label.
(Pages from this web site may be printed for further practice, or to
use as the students stay on the web site from task #1)
#3: Compare the bones of the human skeleton to the bones of rodent
(vole) and a bird.
Review your knowledge of human bones. Predict the similarities and differences
between human bones and rodent bones.
Based on your prior knowledge, do you think that the human bones will
be similar or different from the rodent bones? Why?
Compare your human skeleton with the labels, to the vole skeleton (below).
Record your observations
Share your observations of the human/vole skeleton comparison with a
Based on your observations, predict the similarities and differences
between human/ vole bones and the bones of a bird.
Will the bird's bones be similar or different? Write your hypothesis
with an explanation.
Compare the human and vole skeleton to the bird's skeleton.
Record your observations.
Click to see the skeleton
of the bird.
#4: Dig in to your owl pellet!!!!
Most of the bones that you see will be rodent bones. If you are lucky,
you may find some bird bones. You will need 2 paper plates and a
teasing needle or a toothpick, an owl pellet and a baggie to store the
||Carefully pull the pellet apart with your hands.
||Separate the bones from the fur with the teasing needle.
Set the bones on one plate and fur on the other plate.femur,humerus, scapula,
ribs, vertebrae and more...
||Use the diagram of the rodent and bird skeleton to identify
the bones. Look carefully for the tibia, fibula,
||Sketch each type of bone found and label it. Tally the
number of each bone that you have.
||Create a bar graph representing
the number of each bone found in the owl pellet. Click on the words
"bar graph." Print the graph and shade up to the correct number representing
the amount of each bone found.
#5: Click here to do some really fun extension activities:
Quick Links - Select and click