Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dinosaurs, Fossils, and Archeology, Oh My!

A couple of summers ago, I toured local summer reading programs with a presentation on Digging into the Past, looking at dinosaurs, fossils, and archeology. These are a few resources that might be helpful in learning more about them.

This short video shows how a paleontologist finds fossils. Paleontologists first study the rocks in the area in the office, looking specifically for sedimentary rocks. Knowing how old the rocks are helps the scientist know what animals to expect. When out in the field, they do a lot of walking (and then more walking), looking for clues in various sedimentary rocks. Once they find an interesting spot with fossil evidence they may spend more time in that area. This video shows how paleontologists identify fossils. After fossils are found, paleontologists decide whether they will excavate the find. If they do, this is how the remove the fossils and add a burlap and plaster jacket after getting proper permits. The process continues! The Museum of the Rockies has a great collection of videos that document each step along the way.

Where we live near the Great Lakes, the whole area was covered by water during the times of the dinosaurs, so no dinosaur fossils have been found near our area. Indiana, however, is known for a few fossils. The crinoid is often found near Crawfordsville. This looks like a flower and was once thought to be a plant, but was actually a sea animal. Falls of the Ohio State Park is also an area known for fossil hunting. Fossil collecting is no longer allowed; however, there are opportunities for education in this area and to see the fossils in their natural setting. There is another area near Toledo where it is okay to collect fossils from the Denovian time period.

This game helps understand the differences between archeologists and paleontologists. Archeologists find information and discoveries about how PEOPLE lived in the past. They may consult a geologist to understand rocks and geology from a particular time period (as paleontologists might), yet they do not look for dinosaur bones and other fossils. Check your knowledge on archeologists at the True or False Archeology Game.

The magazine DIG also has great resources on archaeologists at their DIG website

Archeologists often find artifacts and try to understand how they might be used. They even compare them to the tools we might use today. Here is a Prehistoric Tool Matching game to try from Falls of the Ohio State Park.

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