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Dinosaur Teeth: Kid’s Guide to Fossil Identification

Dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago. These large animals came in all different shapes and sizes. Some ate meat, while others ate only plants, but all were amazing in their own way. Some of the most famous dinosaurs are the tyrannosaurus rex and the brontosaurus. So how do we and scientists know that dinosaurs even existed? Giant fossils are the first clues, and they have given us ideas of what these amazing beasts once looked like and how they lived.

How Fossils are Formed

When a living thing dies, the bones and other hard materials stay intact much longer than the softer tissue. Many scientists believe that dinosaurs were killed by massive volcanoes, mud pits, and quicksand. As a dinosaur lay there dead, its bones sunk into the earth. Once it sunk down, sand and dirt slowly built up on top of it. When this happened, the bones were buried underground, and the new dirt or sand built up around it, preserving the bones for a very long time. Minerals and water got inside of the bones and changed their chemical makeup, turning them into hardened minerals. This is what a fossil is made of: hardened minerals formed in the shape of what were once bones.

Where are Fossils Found?

Fossils have been found in many different places around the world, including the United States. The most common places they are found are near exposed sedimentary rock, near river valleys, or on the sides of some hills. Gravel pits and even ocean beds are also good places to search for them. The best places are where sedimentary rock has been found exposed or standing out, but this is not a guarantee that there will be fossils there.

Notable Dinosaur Fossils

Archaeologists and scientists have been digging for fossils for centuries. One of the most notable fossils found was the megalosaurus in England way back in 1676. In the Gobi Desert, scientists discovered a nest containing dinosaur eggs and the skeleton of an oviraptor, which was a dinosaur that resembled a bird. There are many large and small fossils that can be seen in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. One example is a 130-million-year-old fossil of a microraptor dinosaur discovered in China.

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