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Fossils > Unit Outline
Fossils Across America
learn where we have national parks protecting fossils in the U.S.
Activity available in PDF format
Fossils in Time
paleontology? How has life evolved on earth?
Paleontology is the
study of ancient life. There are four major eras
of the earth's history and of life described in the Geologic
individuals or in
groups of 2 or 3
You Begin: Students
should read National
Parks Preserve Fossils.
If the readings are too difficult for younger students, explain
the material to the class. Younger students might read What
is the National Park Service? (from the National Parks as Treasure
unit) to understand the role of NPS in preserving national treasures.
Background: National parks protect areas
where fossils have been found. These fossils represent plants and
animals that have existed over the history of the earth. They show
how the earth has changed, and how the life on it has evolved. No
one place, however, preserves the entire history. Putting together
the history is like putting together pieces of a puzzle, where each
park represents different pieces of the puzzle.
This activity demonstrates
how paleontologists use fossils from different places to represent
parts of the history, by putting them all together they can begin to
understand the entire history.
through Geologic Time table
Map of the United States (there are several different maps of
the United States and national parks available in the
National Parks Preserve Fossils background reading material.
Selected National Parks with Fossil Treasures background reading
Additional resources as needed for research, including the Internet
split into groups of one or more.
group selects a national park that preserves fossil remains to
research. Students can either pick from the list in
Selected National Parks with Fossil Treasures
or visit the National Parks Service
search by topic page. Students research the state
where the park is located, the geologic time period(s) represented
in the fossils it preserves, and list plant and animal species found
in the fossil record at the park.
as a class fill in the table of
through Geologic Time with the names of the parks that preserve
paleontological treasures of each time period, and give examples of
the types of plants and animals that have been preserved.
each on the map provided. Use different colors to mark parks that
have fossils from each of the different eras.
a class, review the Discussion Questions.
Which time periods are preserved, which are not preserved?
Which parks preserve ancient marine (saltwater) life, which preserve
life in ancient freshwater lakes, which preserve ancient life on
Why is important to have more than one fossil park?
What can paleontologists learn from fossils?
List 3 reasons why it is important to establish parks around fossil
What can we learn from studying the area where a fossil
If you find a fossil in a park, what should you do?
Which of these parks would you most like to visit and why?