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What Is a Fossil? (Grade 5)

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What Is a Fossil?

Instructions: Read the passage then answer the questions.

Name a dinosaur. Do you know what food the dinosaur ate? What it looked like? How do we know so much about these animals that no longer exist? We can thank fossils for what we know about the dinosaurs!

A fossil is evidence of plants and animals that are no longer here. Any type of remains or evidence of past life is a fossil. Some fossils are parts of organisms. Shells and bones are examples of fossil remains. Some fossils show traces that the plant or animal was once there. Footprints, burrows, and eggshells are all examples that an organism was once there.
Fossils tell us about the past. We can learn about the plants and animals that lived long ago. We can learn about extinct organisms that no longer live on Earth. We can even learn about the type of environment that was once there. For example, a fish fossil found on dry land tells us that water once covered the land.

It may seem like we should find fossils everywhere. But, most organisms do not preserve well. Animals eat remains before they can become fossils. Some animals have soft body parts that breakdown before they become fossils. Rocks, where fossils form, break apart and change over time. Even though fossils are rare, the oldest known fossils are over three billion years old!

1. 
What are fossils?
  1. places where plant and animals lived many years ago
  2. plants and animals that no longer live on Earth
  3. prints or remains of plants and animals that lived long ago
  4. scientists who study about plants and animals that lived long ago
2. 
All fossils were formed from                .
  1. plants
  2. bones
  3. animals
  4. organisms
3. 
Fossils can only be of dinosaurs.
  1. True
  2. False
4. 
The skin of an animal, or soft parts of a plant, are more likely to become fossils while the bones and hard parts eventually break down.
  1. True
  2. False
5. 
Fossils can be
  1. shells.
  2. bones.
  3. footprints.
  4. all of the above.
6. 
When a plant or animal organism is gone forever it is
  1. extinct.
  2. endangered.
  3. threatened.
  4. fossilized.
7. 
Fossils tell us about the past.
  1. True
  2. False
8. 
Fossils are quite rare.
  1. True
  2. False
9. 
Which of the following is NOT likely to be a fossil?
  1. a footprint
  2. a piece of bone
  3. a piece of cement
  4. a tooth
10. 
A geologist is studying a series of rock layers. The bottom layer of rock has fossilized fish bones and shells. The top layer has fossilized bones of land mammals and plants.

Which best describes how the landscape has changed over time?
  1. The landscape has not changed over time.
  2. The landscape changed from ocean to dry land over time.
  3. The landscape changed from dry land to ocean over time.
  4. The landscape changed from ocean to deeper ocean over time.

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