Maximum Predator: Education Worksheet

Video highlights from Maximum Predator

School Level: Upper Primary, Junior Secondary

Imagine confronting a snarling 90 kilogram Komodo dragon, a python large enough to swallow you whole, or a crocodile six metres long with dinner in mind!  Even in the hands of experts, they're all extremely dangerous carnivores.  But what happens when apex predators as mean and mighty as this get a taste for human prey? And if that isn’t enough, science and palaeontology show they may be poised to grow much, much bigger.

Dinosaurs were massive, powerful, ferocious beasts that once roamed the world and ruled supreme. About 65 million years ago, a devastating extinction wiped out most of Earth’s giant reptiles. Some, however, managed to survive as smaller models of the same basic construction.

This gripping, three-part series looks at the defining elements of Indonesia’s Komodo dragons, northern Australia’s saltwater crocodiles, and the Burmese python that was introduced to Florida’s subtropical Everglades, where it is fast becoming the dominant species.

Each of these apex predators lives in close proximity to humans, and each has clocked up a number of fatal attacks. While the Komodo dragon is confined to a few Indonesian islands, Australia’s saltwater crocodiles are a protected species on the move, and Burmese pythons are rapidly increasing in number in their predator-free Everglades environment.

Travelling to different parts of the world in each episode, we meet scientific experts who work with these animals, both in the wild and in captivity. We see first-hand how to catch, weigh and measure these powerful animals, how data is recorded and how it’s used. We also meet palaeontologists who explain how we can learn about present-day animals from their ancestors – and how little they have changed over the millennia.

Of particular interest are the similarities and differences in hunting and survival techniques these reptiles use to stay at the top of their game – techniques that have been honed to perfection over millions of years.

Looking to the future, with warmer temperatures and more plentiful prey, some scientists predict a “perfect storm” of growth forces that may well see a return of monstrous beasts. Imagine a python as long as a school bus, stretching to 13 metres in length and some 1100 kg in weight, rising to hip height with a body wider than a doorway. It may sound like a Hollywood horror show, but it just might eventuate!

Upper Primary Curriculum

The science curriculum addresses the diverse needs of Australian students by providing them with scientific knowledge, understandings and skills to make informed and responsible personal, social, technological and environmental decisions that impact at the local, national and global levels and to participate, if they so wish, in science-rich careers.
Australian Science Curriculum 2010: Rationale 


Junior Secondary Curriculum

In addition to its practical applications, learning science is a valuable pursuit in its own right, providing opportunities for critical and creative thinking, challenge and leisure. The science curriculum provides opportunities for students to experience the joy of scientific discovery and to nurture students’ natural curiosity about the world around them.

Australian Science Curriculum 2010: Rationale  

Upper Primary

  • (students) develop an interest in science and a curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions and speculate about the changing world in which they live

  • (students) investigate questions about apex predators using scientific inquiry methods, including questioning

  • (students) communicate their scientific understandings and findings

  • (students) develop an understanding of historical and cultural aspects of science as well as contemporary science issues.

Australian Science Curriculum 2010: Aims

Junior Secondary

  • (students) make informed, evidence-based decisions about current and future applications of science while taking into account moral, ethical and social implications

  • (students) develop an understanding of historical and cultural aspects of science as well as contemporary science issues and activities and an understanding of the diversity of careers related to science

  • (students) select and integrate science understanding in order to explain and predict phenomena, to apply that understanding to new situations and events, and to appreciate the dynamic nature of science knowledge.

  • (students) communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs.

Australian Science Curriculum 2010: Aims


Upper Primary
Task 1
What does the word predator mean? Write down the definition.

All animals can be categorised into three types of consumer: herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore. What does each of these types of consumers eat?

One of these consumers is NOT a predator. Which one?

Task 2
Select on of the animals from the Maximum Predator series. Do a drawing of this animal’s habitat. List 5 things in its habitat that it needs to survive.

Task 3
Draw a food chain of 4 animals. Choose your favourite predator as primary predator.

Task 4
Predators often snare their prey in different ways. Explain how pythons, saltwater crocodiles and Komodo dragons kill their prey.  

Task 5
Write 50 words about why it is important to preserve and protect predators in the wild.

National Geographic learning resources


Junior Secondary

Task 1
Imagine living near Komodo National Park. When humans and Komodo dragons share an environment, there can be dangers for both species.  Suggest five safety precautions to protect humans, and five human-induced dangers that could harm Komodo dragons.

Task 2
Draw up a table of three columns. Select three species from the Maximum Predator series that are at the top of their food chain- and write one as a heading in each of the three columns. Now, make a list of five defence mechanisms that help keep this species at the top of its food chain.

Task 3
Predators often have individual ways of snaring their prey. List all of the predators featured in the Maximum Predator series, and comment on their individual hunting strategies.

Task 4
Select one of the animals from the Maximum Predator series. Draw a food chain which includes this species as primary predator.

Task 5
Investigate 3 Australian animals that have the ability to kill humans. When was the most recently recorded fatal attack? Describe the circumstances that lead to the fatal attack. In each case, explain the how human intervention in the animal’s environment inadvertently caused the attack.

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