Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils
How we did it:
- flour (2 cups)
- salt (1 cup)
- water (1 cup)
- plastic dinosaurs
- food coloring - red, yellow, and blue
- mixing bowl - large
- cutting board
- rolling pin
- cookie cutter - circle
- oven - optional
Fossils are how we know anything about living things from the ancient world, like dinosaurs. Fossils form under just the right conditions, when a dead animal or plant is encased in dirt and sediment. Over hundreds of years, the living thing’s organic matter is traced or replaced by minerals. The fossil rock that remains can last for hundreds of millions of years, longer than any tissue from the living thing itself.
The only trouble with fossils is that they need the right conditions to form, and they take a looong time to make. But what if you could make your own fossils in under two hours? Try out this project to find out how!
Gather your materials.
Mix 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of salt together in the mixing bowl.
Gradually add 1 cup of water, stirring as you go, until you have a dough-like consistency. We added several drops of red, yellow, and blue food coloring to make a greenish water that turns the dough brown.
Don’t make the dough too wet! You may not need a whole cup of water.
Form the dough into a ball, dust it with flour, and knead it for at least 5 minutes.
The longer you knead your dough, the smoother it will be. If your dough gets too sticky, add more flour to the dough, your hands, or your kneading surface.
Roll your dough out to about ½-inch to ¼-inch thickness.
Cut circles out of the dough using either a cookie cutter or a glass.
Press your dinosaurs into the dough. Then, carefully remove them. Either let your dinosaur fossils air dry, or bake them in the oven at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours.
Paleontologists (scientists who study ancient life like dinosaurs) call the kind of fossil you just made a mold fossil. That’s because the sediment (the dough) formed a mold around the dinosaur body, preserving an imprint of it.
There are lots of other kinds of fossils, though. The dinosaur bones you see arranged and built into skeletons are permineralized fossils. Compression fossils turn plants like ferns into a thin film on a rock. The next time you visit a natural history museum, see how many different kinds of fossils you can find!