Bizarre Prehistoric Beasts – Day 3

On our last day of camp we learned all about the crazy critters that lived in the Cenozoic Era.  This included things like bear-dogs, big-bad pigs, and sling-shot nosed rhinos!

We started with a 300 piece puzzle that was divided into envelops and given to the students in small increments… oh, and they weren’t allowed to see the picture on the box!  It was used to represent the challenges paleontologists face when piecing back together the geologic record.  You don’t always have all the pieces, and you don’t always know what the outcome will look like.

The first round of envelops is distributed

Teamwork was a vital part of completing the puzzle!

Working hard to complete the picture

Next, different picture cards of bizarre animals were given to each student, and they had to tell us some of the facts about that animal.

Carcharodon megalodon - a giant prehistoric shark

Students then removed their cast from the T. rex molds we made yesterday and started painting them to resemble real fossils…

Carefully painting the tooth cast

Some fossils were brown...

Painting with great concentration

Almost done...

For our final activity, students learned how to construct a field jacket–the giant plaster egg-like container that holds the fossil while in transport from the field to the lab.

Cleaning off real fossils!

Make sure you get all the dirt off

Next, toilet paper is applied with water to cover the fossil to act as a barrier between the plaster and bone.

Sticking the toilet paper to the bone

Covering all the exposed fossil with TP

The toilet paper is then covered with strips of burlap soaked in plaster. This will harden and protect the fossil from any bumps or bruises it may encounter along its journey back to the lab.

Covering the TP with plaster and burlap

Smoothing the surface of the field jacket

Applying the final strips of burlap

This camp was so much fun to teach, and hopefully students had fun learning all about the crazy creatures of Earth’s past! I hope to see many of these campers back for our other summer camps in July when we partner with the National Ranching Heritage Center next door!

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