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Program Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure

  • 1. Look at the illustrations to see one way a fossil forms.
    Look at the color illustrations to learn how fossils form. Over millions of years, fossil remains become crushed or broken. They are often incomplete, and scientists must work very carefully to put them back together. You’re going to make a skeleton model of a Tylosaurus, a giant sea reptile that lived approximately 65 million years ago.

    2. Prepare your work area.
    Print out the black-and-white illustration of the Tylosaurus. Lay it on a flat, clean surface. Cover it with waxed paper and secure it to the surface with tape. Gather your materials.

    3. Construct the skeleton model.

    Use toothpicks and pasta to form the skeleton. Start with the spine, or backbone. Add other pieces to make the skull, tail, and paddles.

    4. Glue the pieces together.
    Glue the pieces together and then allow the model to dry completely. Lift the model off of the drawing. Use scissors to trim away the waxed paper.

    5. Compare your model to the drawing.
    Compare the finished model to the original drawing. How similar are they?

  • Materials You Provide

    • Glue
    • Pasta in assorted shapes
    • Scissors
    • Toothpicks
    • Transparent tape
    • Waxed paper

    Required Technology

    • Internet Access: Optional
    • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector

    Recommended Prior Activities

    • None
  • Background Information

    When scientists discover fossil remains, they must work very carefully in order to put them back together.


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    fossil Noun

    remnant, impression, or trace of an ancient organism.

    Encyclopedic Entry: fossil
    model Noun

    image or impression of an object used to represent the object or system.


National Science Foundation