The last class in this month's series is Paleontology. The word fossil means "dug up". A fossil is the remains of any living organism. A paleontologist studies fossils and can specialize in different areas. I sat the kids on the floor in a circle and brought out a plastic Stegosaurus and pretended that it was walking through the grasslands and it was older so it died. I asked them if they thought that it would become fossilized. Most kids said that it would. I then brought out a toy Allosaurus. I then acted out that the Allosaurus eating the Stegosaurus. For a dinosaur to become fossilized it had to become hidden from the predators. I had the students guess what could hide them. Sand storms, rock slides, quick sand, and floods were the favorite answers. Once the dinosaur was buried I asked which parts would become fossilized. The hard parts like the bones, spikes, teeth, and claws were what most kids think of. I added that skin prints, eggs, poops and footprints could be left behind too. I then moved on to showing the children the 2 groups of fossils. The first type is a replacement fossil. These are usually teeth, caws, bones, poops and eggs. The bone has tiny holes all over it and it lies in the dirt, water washes in and pushes a little of the bone out. Luckily it leaves a little piece of mineral in its place. I then passed around a T. Rex tooth replica. The second type is mold and cast which is footprints and skin prints. We pushed dinos into modeling clay to see the impressions left behind.
Next we went through what it would be like to work on a dig. First we'd go out west to Colorado, Utah or South Dakota where there are more dino remains than here in North Carolina. Then when we began to dig we'd photograph the cite, map the cite and as each fossil is removed we number it and mark the number on the map. The bones are wrapped in plaster wrap and transported to the museum or university to be cleaned, studied and reassembled.
. I showed the chidren my collection of petrified would that is many colored. The kids then identified some of my fossil collection and told me if they were mold or replacement.
We then excavated and cleaned a piece of amber which is fossilized tree sap that sometimes traps insects and other plant