Dinosaurs by Ashley and Brandy
We're Ashley and Brandy, and we live in Texas where some of the biggest dinosaurs on Earth once lived. But we're more interested in TINY fossils because they tell the rest of the story about life on Earth millions of years ago. These microfossils are things like teeth, jawbones, and other small bones from animals including crocodiles, fish, and even mammals. Our question: What kinds of creatures lived alongside the big dinosaurs in Texas?
What did we do?
We went to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and learned how to recognize microfossils. We even tried out our paleontology skills at a cool exhibit called DinoDig. Then we went to a real dig site called Jones Ranch, which is run by the Museum, to look for our own microfossils.
What did we find out?
Digging for fossils is messy work! But back at the lab, our efforts paid off! We sorted the microfossils we collected at Jones Ranch by shape. Then we identified the kind of animal we thought each microfossil belonged to-sharks, bony fish, lizard frogs, crocodiles, and even the dinosaurs themselves. We made charts of all our findings. We couldn't figure out why the dinosaur fossils were found in an area once covered in water. But we made a scientific hypothesis, or guess. Maybe the dinosaurs fell into the water when they died. Or maybe their bones were washed into the water during a rainstorm.
- Examine tiny bones in an owl pellet. When owls eat a rodent, they spit out the bones in the form of a "pellet". You can order owl pellets from a science supply company. Even though these aren't fossils, you can examine them in the same way. Carefully dig through the owl pellet, and collect the tiny bones. Learn to identify jaw bones, leg ones, and rib bones. Can you identify precisely what kind of rodent the owl ate? How can you tell if it's a mouse, a vole, or something else? Be sure to wash your hands when you are done!
- You can't dig just anywhere and expect to find fossils. You want to look in places where old layers of earth have been exposed, such as near hillsides and cliffs, or near river and stream banks. Be safe as you explore in these areas, and always have an adult with you. Also, be sure you have permission to dig at that location. Digging can harm landscapes, so be respectful.
- Use this dinosaur investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!