Nature and Science Programs 
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Fossil Hunters

Children who came to Fossil Hunters took home a collection of tiny fossils, helped excavate some larger bones, played with our huge collection of plastic dinosaurs, and learned lots more about dinosaurs and fossils.


Most activities took place in well-lit area adjacent to Great Outdoors, and in the nearby blocks area.  They included:

  • Play with plastic dinosaurs in the blocks area – make mountains, caves, etc., with the blocks (variations for 2 years and up)   Learn more 

  • Dino-sorts with plastic “dinosaurs.”  (Sort them into meat-eaters and plant-eaters, match parents and babies, and so forth.)  (ages 3 and up, with parents help)   Learn more 

  • Hunt for loose fossils in a fossil-rich gravel—and take them home (best for ages 4 and up)   Learn more 

  • Dig real fossil bones out of a “mock rock” matrix, and display them in the museum (best for ages 6 and up)   Learn more 

  • See and touch real fossils from Illinois and nearby states (all ages)   Learn more 

Learn More About It

   Plastic Dinosaurs

We live in the Golden Age of Plastic Dinosaurs!  Today you can buy more kinds, and better quality, plastic dinosaurs than ever before.  

During Fossil Hunters, young visitors to Wonder Works get to play with a huge assortment of prehistoric beasts in almost any way they please.

Go here to link to some Web sites about plastic dinosaurs:
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Can you tell meat-eaters from plant-eaters?  Real dinosaurs from other sorts of prehistoric beasts?  Can you match dinosaur parents with their young?

During Fossil Hunters, you can test your dino-sorting skills. is our favorite Web site about dinosaur classification and dinosaur names:
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   Make a Fossil Collection

Have you ever found a fossil?  You'll find hundreds of real ones during Fossil Hunters, and you can take the best five home to add to your collection.  

Your finds will include teeth from sharks and rays that lived in Florida millions of years ago.

We buy some of our fossil mix from The Fossil Web's online store.  Go here to learn more about "PaleoPebble" fossils:
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Go here to see pictures of the sorts of fossils that can be found in the Peace River area:
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Go here to find links to Web sites about collecting fossils:
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   Dig Out Fossil Bones

Many real fossil bones are found buried in solid rock.  To study them, paleontologists have to dig them out by chipping or scraping away the rock.

During Fossil Hunters, you can help us dig out bones of fossil mammals buried in simulated sandstone.  The bones we excavate come from animals that lived in Florida millions of years ago.  

You can see fossil bones from Florida at this Web site:

Our real fossil bones were embedded in a kind of fake rock that we call "mock rock."  We've buried all sorts of things in mock rock over the years, including polished stones and many types of fossils.  Go here to learn how to make mock rock:
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   Fossils from Illinois

You can find fossils right here in Illinois and in nearby states.  During Fossil Hunters, you can see a fossil collection built by 8-year-old Ethan, who lives near Wonder Works and helped us plan this special program.

Here's a Web site about common fossils found in Illinois:
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This page includes many more links to Web sites about Illinois fossils:
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The most common fossils in Chicago suburbs are found in chunks of gray rock used to make roads, driveways, parking lots, and railroad beds.  The scientific name for this rock is "dolostone."  Go here to learn more about dolostone and the fossils found within it:
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Copyright 2003 Eric D. Gyllenhaal                                              Search this Site

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This page was created on June 6, 2003, and it was last updated on March 28, 2004.