Rocks and Fossils activity 8: Make your own coprolite (dinosaur poo!)
The children investigate the mystery object in Rocks and Fossils 6. What do they think it is? They discuss what coprolites (fossilised poo) of dinosaurs might reveal, conduct online research to find out more, and report back on their findings.
The following child-friendly web pages on the Natural History Museum website are well worth a look.
Working in small teams the children create a fake coprolite, to represent the poo of a large or small carnivorous or herbivorous dinosaur, before dissecting one made by a rival team, to work out who did it!
Increased knowledge and understanding of dinosaurs and the work of palaeontologists. How we identify dinosaurs from their poo.
Scientific analysis of specimens. It’s exciting being a scientist!
KS1-2 Science (prehistoric life, dinosaurs)
The fake coprolites are best made from self-hardening clay. While it is still damp, the children, working in small groups, press seeds, leaf fragments and bits of bark into it (to represent the diet of a plant eater); or small bones (use small boiled chicken bones) to represent the diet of a meat-eater, or fish bones to represent a marine carnivore.
Teams can vary the size, shape and contents of the coprolites (based on evidence they have researched) to represent the poo of different prehistoric creatures. Or the teacher can allocate prehistoric animals to each group with information on their size, poo size and shape and diet, or get them to research them.
The coprolites are left to go hard overnight. They can then be swapped with rival group and dissected. A small hammer may be required to break them open.
Teams should record the shape and size of their coprolite, what kind of material they found inside it, and conclusions as to the kind of creature that dropped it, and what its diet was. The other team can then reveal how close they got to the truth.
Learn with Objects links
Use Learn with Objects, Rocks and Fossils 6: Coprolites for info and images. You may also like to research the coprolites made by other animals whose fossils are represented in Rocks and Fossils 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 and get teams to make some of these. You may of course need extra clay if you opt for the mammoth!