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Impressions in clay

Stephen F. Greb
Kentucky Geological Survey


Fossils are any evidence of ancient life preserved (usually) in stone. Many fossils are impressions of ancient life, rather than any preserved part of the actual organism. Impressions of hard parts are more common then soft parts, but impressions of soft parts such as skin and scales have been preserved as fossils in rock. Fossil tracks are also impressions. To illustrate how impressions form, and how hard or easy it is for organisms to leave impressions, students will make impressions of different objects in clay. In nature, muddy or clayey sediments are the best sediments for leaving impressions, so using clay in the classroom is a good model for nature. You can see examples of fossil impressions on-line at the Kentucky Geological Survey's pictures of different fossil types.

Grade Level : K-8

Time : 15-30 minutes in class (or can be done as part of an outside classroom activity)

Materials :