Activity 1: Do at School!

Make a fossil sandwich

Making a fossil is a bit like making a sandwich. In this activity you will have the opportunity to make a fossil sandwich using a couple slices of soft white bread and some objects like paper clips, leaves, and twigs. Imagine that the bread is sediment (soft sand or mud) at the bottom of a pond or lake, and that your objects are different kinds of living things.

  1. Place a piece of bread on a table - this is the mud at the bottom of the pond.
  2. Place some of your creatures (paper clips, leaves, etc.) on the bottom of the pond (the bread).
  3. More mud is swept into the pond and settles over the objects (add another slice of bread)
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 a couple more times.
  5. SQUISH the sandwich with your hand. This is similar to sediment getting squished by heavy sediment above it.
  6. Now pull apart the layers and look at how things are preserved.

Were some things fossilized in greater detail than others? Why?

Discuss: In what ways is this fossil sandwich not realistic?

Main Message: This exercise shows how fossil organisms and their impressions are formed within layers of sediment. It also shows that some objects are better preserved than others.

Connections: Activity 2 (about settling sediment), and activity 5 (about finding fossils) will help reveal what really happens.



The Paleontological Research Institution
1259 Trumansburg Road
Ithaca, NY 14850 phone: 607-273-6623 fax: 607-273-6620
Questions about the Website? Tell us!