Grab your chisel and brushes. Bring your curiosity and your brain. It’s time to go on a dino dig – a mini dino dig, that is! For this week’s Saturday Science, we’re bringing the excitement of a real dinosaur dig site to your home. Dig for dinos, map their bones and discover what real paleontologists find when they're searching for fossils!
- Fake dinosaur bones or objects to bury
- Plastic containers or boxes (one for each little paleontologist)
- Grid paper
- Masking tape
- Set up the dig site!
- Arrange your plastic containers side by side so that they represent the grid of a dinosaur dig site.
- Label each container.
- Place one or two fake dinosaur bones inside each plastic container.
- Fill each container with rice.
- On an empty wall or the floor, use masking tape to recreate your dig site. Make sure to label each section so that your dig site matches the plastic containers. Each section should be the size of the grid paper.
- Start digging!
- Give each little paleontologist his or her own container and explain that each container is a section of the grid on the wall or floor.
- Have your paleontologists dig for the dinosaur bones with their tools. They should use the spoon first, adding each spoonful of rice to a separate container that’s out of the way. Once they hit bone, have them switch to the tweezers and finish uncovering the dinosaur bone.
- Map the bones!
- Paleontologists never remove a bone from a dig site before it’s been mapped. Now it’s your kiddos’ turn! Once they uncover a bone, have them draw a picture of it on a piece of grid paper.
- When they’re finished drawing, place the grid paper in the corresponding section of the dig site on the wall or floor.
- What was found?
- When every little paleontologist is finished with their digs, have each kid describe what was discovered in the dig pit.
- Based on where the bones were found and their size, which bones might be from the same dinosaur?
You just simulated a real dinosaur dig!
Just like your dig site, paleontologists always divide their site into a grid so that the scientists and researchers can focus on one area. It’s a tedious process to dig out dinosaur bones. Your spoon represented a clam shucker, which is used first to remove the matrix around the bones. As soon as a bone is found, diggers switch to X-Acto knives and brushes, or in our case, tweezers. This is to protect bones and make sure nothing gets damaged.
Did you find a complete dinosaur? If not, don’t worry! Not only do paleontologists rarely find a complete dinosaur in a dinosaur dig, but they also find bones from one dig that are from different dinosaurs. Whether you found a complete dinosaur or bones from all types of dinosaurs, you still found dinosaur bones! How cool is that?!