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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.
- Skeleton Jigsaw Puzzle: Put the puzzle pieces together to see if you can form the dinosaur skeleton!
- First Dinosaur Fossil Discoveries: Read here to learn about some of the very first important dinosaur fossil discoveries.
- What Are Fossils? Check out this website to learn about what fossils are and how they are formed.
- Geology: Fossils: This cool, interactive site has lots of information dedicated to dinosaurs and fossils.
- Fossil Fabrication Game: Play this fun game to see how to make a fossil!
- Fossil Gallery: Click here to take a look at some cool pictures of different fossils.
- Fossil Hunting Guide: Read here to find out how you can go on your very own fossil hunt!
- The End of the Dinosaurs Video: Watch this video to learn more about what caused the end of the dinosaurs on earth.
- Sue the T-Rex: Check out pictures of Sue, a famous T-Rex, and learn about her history.
- Fossil Facts: This website has lots of great information about fossils with pictures included.
- Paleontology Games: There are tons of fun games on this website all about dinosaurs and fossils.
- Coffee Ground Fossils: Make your own fossils with this cool craft idea.
- Dirt Detective: Play this fun game/quiz to learn about the different aspects of archaeology and fossils.
- Getting Into the Fossil Record: This website explains how fossils are formed and how we can go back and learn about their past histories.
- Journey of Life Through Time: Click through this web presentation of how life has evolved through time.
- Amber Fossils: Some fossils are suspended in a beautiful yellow substance called amber. Learn more about those here.
- Homemade Fossils: Watch the video and follow the instructions to make your very own fossils at home.
- Fossils Quiz: Go here to take an easy online quiz all about fossils.
- How Fossils Form: This site explains more about how fossils are formed.
- The Tar Pits: This timeline shows what the world was like before people inhabited the famous tar pits, where dinosaurs once roamed.
- The Virtual Fossil Museum: This website is a treasure trove of information about fossils and much more.
- All About Fossils: Click here to see more information all about fossils!
- Dinosaurs and Fossils Resources: This Web page has lots more resources where you can find more about fossils and dinosaurs.
- “I Am a Paleontologist”: Watch this music video to learn about paleontologists, people who study fossils.
- Fun With Footprints: Explore activities and games to learn more about fossilized footprints.
- How Fossils Form: Click through this animation to see how fossils were made.
- How Do We Know About Dinosaurs? The Smithsonian offers a wealth of information about the study of fossils and extinct plants and animals.
- Ask a Scientist: How Do You Find Dinosaur Bones? Cornell University experts answer this question.
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