Teaching overview

Learning points

  • Fossils are the preserved remains of once-living organisms from a very long time ago.
  • Scientists who hunt for fossils are called palaeontologists.
  • Palaeontologists have studied fossils from all kinds of life, including dinosaurs, insects, fish, trees, shells – and even bacteria.

Curriculum keywords

  • Fossil
  • Organism
  • Dinosaur
  • Palaeontologist

5 things you didn't know

What are fossils

1. Fossils are the remains of animals and plants, found in rock or mud. They give us important clues about organisms that lived a long time ago, such as dinosaurs!


2. Trilobites were prehistoric sea creatures related to modern-day insects and crabs. Scientists studying their fossils have discovered that there were more than 20,000 species of trilobites, from less than a millimetre in size to more than 50cm across.

Biggest dinosaur… so far

3. In 2017, scientists uncovered the bones of the biggest dinosaur ever found. Named Patagotitan mayorum, the giant creature was longer than three buses. Scientists think it might have weighed more than 10 elephants!

Fossilised bacteria

4. The oldest fossils found so far – of ancient bacteria – date back an astonishing 3.5 billion years! The Earth itself is around 4.5 billion years old.

Fossilised poo

5. Fossil scientists, known as palaeontologists, find out what dinosaurs ate by examining coprolites – the scientific word for fossilised poo!

Spark a discussion

  • Where would be some good places to look for fossils?
  • What are the names of some of the most interesting dinosaurs? What makes them so interesting?
  • Why did dinosaurs become extinct?

Explore our resources

Complete your lesson with teaching resources on fossils from Tigtag.

Go to Tigtag

Discover free online CPD for primary science from Reach Out CPD.

Go to Reach Out CPD