Up to 32 students

45-60 minutes


Ichnology is the study of trace fossils, often referred to as ichnofossils. Trace fossils are fossils not of remains but of burrows, borings, foot prints, track and trails. The earliest signs of certain life forms are found by their traces not their actual remains. This is one way that scientists have determined when and where certain organisms came to life.

Learning Objectives:

1. Expand knowledge base of fossils to include trace fossils.

2. Use understandings to analyze different trace fossils.


Trace fossil replicas


Images of trace fossils

Activity: Introduce and define the idea of trace fossils to students.

Pass out trace fossils to groups and have them look at all the fossils and discuss with the group or partner what it is, a track, burrow, footprint, etc. and what type of organism may have made it. If possible find trace fossils to match the previous lessons fossil casts.

15-20 minutes

Conclusion and Wrap Up:

When students have reached a conclusion on the fossils discuss them as a group.

Have students add new terminology to their LINK.

Vocabulary to note:

Trace fossil



*New York State Scope and Sequence *

Intermediate and High School Science Standards

Physical Setting:

Key Idea 1.2c, 1.2h - 1.2j

Living Environment:

Key Idea 1.1b - 1.1f, 3.1a - 3.1g, 3.1j - 3.1l, 6.1d - 6.1e, 6.3b - 6.3c

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