Do you love dinosaurs? Who doesn't? But how did we find out dinosaurs even existed, given that they died out many millions of years ago?
Well, scientists found their bones, like the famous English paleontologist Mary Anning in the 1800s.
But we also see evidence for dinosaurs in giant footprints in places like the coast of Australia, Bolivia, or in even in Utah and Colorado in the United States.
Let's make some dinosaur footprints right here at home! In this month's 20 Minute Lab, we'll create a pretend dinosaur footprint trackway with common household ingredients. Then learn about how the real ones were formed over millions of years!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
WHAT'S GOING ON?
A dinosaur footprint isn't a fossil in itself, because it's not an actual piece of the animal. It IS a fossil trace though, in other words, a clue that the animal existed and was active there.
When you pressed your dinosaur toys (or other items) into your clay slab, you made an imprint, meaning you squished a shape into a surface. This is just what dinosaurs did simply by walking around, and like you might do walking on a muddy trail!
But why weren't dinosaur footprints just washed away with the rain? Well, many were, but sometimes, the mud had time to dry out. Sediment, which is tiny rocks and minerals that sink to the bottom of liquids, could then settle into and around the footprint over time.
This sediment itself can dry and turn into a hard layer. Many more layers can stack on top of this one from landslides or just more sediment settling, and over thousands and even millions of years, the footprint is hidden deep in the layers of the ground.
But the land is constantly changing - earthquakes, weather and other factors may end up breaking apart those layers, revealing the path of the dinosaurs for all to see!
You can pretend to hide your fossil in layers too. Try clay or sand to cover your footprint and then brush it away to reveal the prints!
For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope science kits on the Shop tab of our website!