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We're Going on a Fossil Hunt!

In this worksheet, students will expand their understanding of evolution, fossils and classification by joining in on an imaginary fossil hunt.

'We're Going on a Fossil Hunt!' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Evolution and Inheritance

Curriculum subtopic:   Changes Over time: Fossils

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Amy and her brother, Sam, were on a family holiday in Dorset on the south coast. It was a bit of a dull day and they were mooching around the shops in the local town. They wandered into one that had all sorts of interesting local stuff for sale.

 

Shopping street

 

Sam's eyes lighted on a large black spiky object, "Wow, what's this?" he asked his sister.

 

Amy looked over at what he was holding, "it looks like some sort of animal claw," she answered, "let's have a look!"

 

Dinosaur claw

 

He passed it to her and she found a sticker on it which read, "RAPTORDINOSAUR CLAW FOSSIL". Excitedly she told Sam, "This is the claw of a dinosaur, Sam!"

 

"What, a real dinosaur?" Sam wanted to know. 

 

"Yes, that's right - it's from a raptor", Sam knew that these were fierce carnivorous dinosaurs.

 

"Are there any living near here?" he whispered, his eyes fearful. "Oh no, "laughed Amy, "it's all right Sam - they're all extinct."

 

"What does extinguished mean?" asked Sam. "It's 'extinct', Sam, and it means that there are no dinosaurs alive on Earth any more." Sam was relieved!

 

Wanting to know more, Amy looked around the shop and she saw a poster. It read:

 

ON HOLIDAY?  INTERESTED IN FOSSILS?  JOIN THE DAILY FOSSIL HUNT IN THE BAY

 

"Would you like to go hunting for fossils, Sam?" suggested Amy. Sam's eyes widened. "You mean, find a dinosaur?"

 

"No, not a whole one and probably not any bit of one, but certainly something extinct." 

 

"Oh, yes please," exclaimed Sam, "when can we go?"

 

"There's a fossil hunt at the bay today." smiled Amy. "Come on, let's see what we can find."

 

Before they set off for the fossil hunt in the local bay, Amy and Sam gather together the equipment they think they might need.

 

What will they take? Tick all the ones you think they probably included.

Waterproofs

Welly boots

Inflatable raft

Bucket

Snacks

Mobile phone

Umbrella

Flip-flops

When Amy and Sam arrive at the bay for the fossil hunt, they join a group of people and are greeted by the local warden, Stuart, who is going to lead the group on the hunt.

 

The first thing he goes through are safety warnings. Which one of the following is not likely to be a danger to Amy and Sam and the other fossil hunters?

Rocks falling from the cliff

The tide coming in

Being charged by a bull

Slipping on seaweed

The group leader Stuart, explains that the cliffs contain a wide variety of fossils from a long time ago. He says that it's possible to find fossils of both plants and animals.

 

Which of the following fossils are Amy, Sam and the other fossil hunters unlikely to find? Tick all the ones you agree with.

Shells

Flowers

Fish bones

Sea urchins

Feathers

Teeth

Claws

Seeds

Stuart tells the group that the fossils fall on to the beach from the cliffs as a result of the action of the waves on the rocks of the cliff, wearing the cliff away so that material falls down.

 

What word do we use to describe the kind of wearing away of the cliffs by the sea? Type one word into the box.

Stuart shows them that the cliffs around the bay contain obvious layers of rock and that different fossils are found in the different layers.

 

Cliff rock strata

 

What can you say about the rocks near the base of the cliff?

 

 

They are older than the rocks above

They are younger than the rocks above

They contain the most fossils

They are made of sandstone

Stuart talks about the ages of the fossils they are likely to find.

 

What sort of timescale, in years, do you think Stuart would have been talking about?

Hundreds of years

Thousands of years

Millions of years

Billions of years

After explaining how and what to look for, Stuart set the group off exploring the beach for fossils.

 

Cliffs

 

Sam quickly found something and excitedly called Amy: "Is this a fossil?"

 

Amy looked, and told Sam, "No, Sam, that's still alive!"

 

Which one of the following do you reckon Sam thought might have been a fossil?

Shell

Seaweed

Jellyfish

Crab

Amy showed Sam something she had found in a rock that had been worn away by the sea.

 

Ammonite

 

Which animal group do you think it is a member of (look carefully at its features)?

Arthropods (crabs, etc.)

Molluscs (snails, etc.)

Fish (trout, etc.)

Reptiles (dinosaurs, etc.)

Sam was exploring amongst some rocks on the beach when he saw something yellow-coloured sticking out of a pebbly patch. He pulled it out and shouted to his sister, "Look what I've found! What is it?"

 

Amy examined it and called Stuart, the group leader, over to have a look. Stuart told Sam that it was an excellent and unusual fossil to find. Here is a picture of what Sam spotted.

 

Fossil shark tooth

 

What do you think it might be?

A dinosaur claw

A sea urchin fossil

A fossil sea snail shell

A fossilised shark's tooth

Towards the end of the fossil hunt, Stuart called the group of fossil hunters together and asked them to show off their finds.

 

Fossils

 

They came from a wide variety of animal groups.

 

See whether you can match the picture of the fossil to the animal group to which it belongs.

 

 

Ammonite fossil Fossil shell Fossil shark tooth Fossil trilobite Dinosaur claw
AMMONITE SHELL SHARK TOOTH TRILOBITE DINOSAUR CLAW


 

Column A

Column B

Shark tooth
Molluscs
Shell
Molluscs
Ammonite
Reptile
Dinosaur claw
Fish
Trilobite
Arthropods
  • Question 1

Before they set off for the fossil hunt in the local bay, Amy and Sam gather together the equipment they think they might need.

 

What will they take? Tick all the ones you think they probably included.

CORRECT ANSWER
Waterproofs
Welly boots
Bucket
Snacks
Mobile phone
EDDIE SAYS
Don't worry if you didn't get all of them, different equipment is required than would be for a normal day at the seaside! Wellies are better at protecting feet in rocky areas than flip-flops are. A spade and bucket might not be useful but a bucket (or bag) for collecting fossils in would be good to have. Waterproofs and snacks are a must and a phone to keep in touch with folks is important. An umbrella needs the hands to hold it you need for fossil hunting and, anyway, it's useless in any sort of wind!
  • Question 2

When Amy and Sam arrive at the bay for the fossil hunt, they join a group of people and are greeted by the local warden, Stuart, who is going to lead the group on the hunt.

 

The first thing he goes through are safety warnings. Which one of the following is not likely to be a danger to Amy and Sam and the other fossil hunters?

CORRECT ANSWER
Being charged by a bull
EDDIE SAYS
Ok, so there might be a bull on the beach, but you must admit it's pretty unlikely! The other things all need to be considered - stones and rocks will often fall from the cliff, so they'll be advised to keep away from the base of the cliff. The tide is also really important - they don't want to get cut off while they're focussed on fossils.
  • Question 3

The group leader Stuart, explains that the cliffs contain a wide variety of fossils from a long time ago. He says that it's possible to find fossils of both plants and animals.

 

Which of the following fossils are Amy, Sam and the other fossil hunters unlikely to find? Tick all the ones you agree with.

CORRECT ANSWER
Flowers
Feathers
Seeds
EDDIE SAYS
Hard things are the ones that fossilise best: shells, teeth, claws, bones. Soft things rarely fossilise, so flowers and feathers are very unusual fossils. Seeds can be found but they need a microscope and a lot of experience to find and identify.
  • Question 4

Stuart tells the group that the fossils fall on to the beach from the cliffs as a result of the action of the waves on the rocks of the cliff, wearing the cliff away so that material falls down.

 

What word do we use to describe the kind of wearing away of the cliffs by the sea? Type one word into the box.

CORRECT ANSWER
Erosion
Erode
Eroded
Eroding
EDDIE SAYS
Erosion is a process that's going on all over the world, all the time, carried out by ice, rain, rivers, wind, sea and so on. Here, the waves crash into the base of the cliff, knocking out small and large pieces of rock, creating an unstable situation which means that rocks from above have nothing underneath them and therefore, fall down. These rocks may contain the fossils of long-dead organisms.
  • Question 5

Stuart shows them that the cliffs around the bay contain obvious layers of rock and that different fossils are found in the different layers.

 

Cliff rock strata

 

What can you say about the rocks near the base of the cliff?

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
They are older than the rocks above
EDDIE SAYS
Whilst many of these might be true, the only one you can definitely say is right is that the rocks lower down must be older than the ones above. Deposition of rock, over time, happens so that material builds up and up, building on the material underneath. The stuff towards the top must have been laid down after the stuff at the bottom.
  • Question 6

Stuart talks about the ages of the fossils they are likely to find.

 

What sort of timescale, in years, do you think Stuart would have been talking about?

CORRECT ANSWER
Millions of years
EDDIE SAYS
Palaeontologists (who study fossils) and geologists (who study rocks) agree that the processes of rock formation and the fossilisation of extinct organisms took place millions of years ago. Thousands of years is too short a timescale to reveal most fossils and as the Earth is only likely to be about four billion years old, they are unlikely to find fossils in such ancient rocks (if they are present at the bay).
  • Question 7

After explaining how and what to look for, Stuart set the group off exploring the beach for fossils.

 

Cliffs

 

Sam quickly found something and excitedly called Amy: "Is this a fossil?"

 

Amy looked, and told Sam, "No, Sam, that's still alive!"

 

Which one of the following do you reckon Sam thought might have been a fossil?

CORRECT ANSWER
Shell
EDDIE SAYS
Some of these might seem a lot more alive than the others - however, it's shells that are often found as fossils so it's probable that Sam just picked up a likely-looking shell and checked with his sister. Jellyfish have only been found as fossils in one special place (they are very soft), seaweeds are soft too and the crab will have been a reddish colour and clearly not made of stone!
  • Question 8

Amy showed Sam something she had found in a rock that had been worn away by the sea.

 

Ammonite

 

Which animal group do you think it is a member of (look carefully at its features)?

CORRECT ANSWER
Molluscs (snails, etc.)
EDDIE SAYS
This sort of fossil is fairly common but really exciting to find - it's called an ammonite and is an early form of sea snail. Have a look at the coiled shell - quite similar to the garden snail you'll be familiar with. Snails, slugs, mussels, oysters and so on are all members of the mollusc group. Amazingly, fast-moving and intelligent animals like squids and octopuses are molluscs too!
  • Question 9

Sam was exploring amongst some rocks on the beach when he saw something yellow-coloured sticking out of a pebbly patch. He pulled it out and shouted to his sister, "Look what I've found! What is it?"

 

Amy examined it and called Stuart, the group leader, over to have a look. Stuart told Sam that it was an excellent and unusual fossil to find. Here is a picture of what Sam spotted.

 

Fossil shark tooth

 

What do you think it might be?

CORRECT ANSWER
A fossilised shark's tooth
EDDIE SAYS
Well, if you've never seen one before, let's try to work out what it is and what it isn't. Dinosaur claws tend to be curved (like a dog or cat claw) and this is straight and triangular. So it's not that. Sea urchins are almost round, so that's out. Sea snail fossils (like ammonites) are often in a coiled shape or a fan-shape (like scallops). Probably not that. In fact, it's just like the teeth that sharks living today have - triangular with sharp cutting edges. Great find!
  • Question 10

Towards the end of the fossil hunt, Stuart called the group of fossil hunters together and asked them to show off their finds.

 

Fossils

 

They came from a wide variety of animal groups.

 

See whether you can match the picture of the fossil to the animal group to which it belongs.

 

 

Ammonite fossil Fossil shell Fossil shark tooth Fossil trilobite Dinosaur claw
AMMONITE SHELL SHARK TOOTH TRILOBITE DINOSAUR CLAW


 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Shark tooth
Fish
Shell
Molluscs
Ammonite
Molluscs
Dinosaur claw
Reptile
Trilobite
Arthropods
EDDIE SAYS
That's a wonderful variety of fossils! Now, using your knowledge of classification, you can begin to sort them out: dinosaurs are reptiles, so that's one sorted. Sharks are fish, so that's simple enough. The fossil shell and the ammonite - they seem to be related to snails and clams: that's the mollusc group. So, what does that leave? Trilobite. One of the things you learn with classification is that it doesn't matter if you've never seen or even heard of an organism. Just look at its features: body in segments, jointed limbs - must be an arthropod (along with insects, spiders, crabs and so on). Sorted!
---- OR ----

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