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It is really unusual for a palaeontologist (scientist who study fossils) to find a complete skeleton with all the bones in the right place. We are more likely to find only a few bones or a jumbled up skeleton.

Putting a skeleton back to together when you know what the animal looks like can be a challenge, but imagine how hard that becomes when there are no more of those creatures alive for you look at. It is a bit like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together when you don’t have the photo on the box as a guide.

Nobody has ever seen a dinosaur, our idea of how these ancient creatures looked is based on the fossil bones we find and how we interpret them. As more fossils are found, palaeontologist are constantly refining what we think these animals looked like.

Being a palaeontologist

Download your 'Bag of bones' template. Print the template and cut out the bones. For longer lasting bones you might want to print them on to card or laminate them.

What creature can you make?

There is no right answer but some things to think about might be:

  • How does your animal move?
  • Are there any missing bones?
  • Where does it live?

Once you have made your creature try drawing what it looked like when it was alive. What details can you add to your drawing that are not preserved in the fossil?

Extension activities for the classroom or homeschool.

white paper bones on a black background