Why are Fossils Important? (LS-MK-289)

This activity uses the fossil collections available on Europeana. Fossils are formed when the remains of the organism are stored in sediment at the bottom of the water column; the sludge may eventually form a sedimentary rock. If later that sedimentary rock is exposed to the surface of the earth, the fossils can be removed from it. Very few of the organisms that once lived became fossils. Most organisms, after they die, swallow quickly and disintegrate.

Searching for fossils is like travelling back in time to look at the earth’s past. You do not have to be a professional palaeontologist to collect remnants of ancient life. Anyone can find fossils. Fossils give us a beautiful window into our past.

All you need is basic information, a good location and a lot of patience.

What can we learn from fossils?

1. Beginnings of life. Apart from the sheer wonder they see the morphology of giant creatures millions of years ago from studying their fossil remains, fossils teach us about the beginnings and transformations of life itself.

2. Ecosystems. Fossils help us understand the environment where extinct life forms once existed.

3. Human origin. Paleo-anthropologists study the beginnings of human life, from the tools our ancestors used, the food they ate, their physical adjustments, to their social behaviour and migration.

4. Age of the country. All living organisms inhabited the Earth only at certain intervals and are reflected in the fossil record in sequence by each layer of rocky sediment.

5. Our past and future. The study of fossils also leads to discoveries and understandings of processes on Earth that may be of benefit to mankind.

It is wonderful for everyone to find stones that sometimes have figures of animals inside and out. People learn from fossils – Whether fossils are from humans or dinosaurs, they may not learn much about the species and cultures that existed in the past. Fossils give us educated guesses about the evolution of different species and what the climate looked like in the past.

Students activities

  1. Students first need to understand what fossils are, the differences between fossils and other natural objects and that all plants and animals will not be fossilized using this resource available on the Scientix repository.
  2. Investigate animal fossils – fossilization, trace fossils, palaeontologists.
  3. Animated video how to create a fossil.
  4. Making your fossil video – your challenge is to make fossils.
  5. Visiting the Natural Scientific Museum in Skopje.
    Through this scenario, students are encouraged to think, to ask questions, to come solutions to given problems and responsible for the work. Collaboration and communication play an important role in the learning scenario that ultimately results in a collection of fossil models made by the students themselves.

The benefits of using Europeana

  1. Getting to know and using resources and useful information from Europe.
  2. By using fossil collections from Europeana, students had the opportunity to become better acquainted and learn about fossils.
  3. Europeana provides us with information about fossils as a way of tracing their origin.

Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:

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CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana Collections and provided by Vänersborgs museum.

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