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This Mystery is out of date! Please proceed to Animals Through Time to see the updated version.

Animals Through Time    Mystery 1

Mystery 1 image

In this Mystery, students will explore the idea that the rock under our feet sometimes contains fossils. These fossils reveal how habitats have changed through time.

To view a revised version of this lesson, please click here.

Where can you find whales in a desert?

Beginning Exploration (1 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (2 of 8)

Discuss: Why do you think there were fossils of ocean animals in the middle of Illinois?

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Beginning Exploration (3 of 8)
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Beginning Visual Activity
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Beginning Visual Activity Answers
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Beginning Exploration (4 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (5 of 8)

Plesiosaur

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Beginning Exploration (6 of 8)

Plesiosaur

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Beginning Exploration (7 of 8)

Plesiosaur

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Beginning Exploration (8 of 8)

Its long neck is a clue that this dinosaur ate leaves from the tops of trees. So this dinosaur probably lived in a forest habitat. Here is what scientists think therizonosaur might have looked like:

Plesiosaur

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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading, and extension activity in the optional extras.

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration which you just completed.
  • End of Mystery Assessment and Answer Key
  • Reading: A Whale of a Find tells of the discovery of many whale skeletons in a South American desert.
  • Video: Watch children examine a "fishapod" fossil and reason from the evidence that they see. You'll find even more info on the "fishapod" here.
  • Resource: Students can explore how ancient plants and animals interact with the environment and with one another in an interactive website from the University of California’s Museum of Paleontology.
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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Exploration
Arizona today by Tonda
Nebraska today by Ken Lund , used under CC BY-SA
meadow by Daniel Case , used under CC BY-SA
camel fossil by Dave Christy
map by Celestia
monkey skeleton by Franzen JL, Gingerich PD, Habersetzer J, Hurum JH, von Koenigswald W, Smith BH , used under CC BY
frozen wasteland by Michael Studinger , used under CC BY
grass by Moyan Brenn , used under CC BY
kids wating by car by Tom Brandt , used under CC BY
penguins by Liam Quinn , used under CC BY-SA
seal by Liam Quinn , used under CC BY-SA
cars driving at night by Editor , used under CC BY
fern fossil by Howard Dickins
waves crashing by Terri and Doyle Johnson
flotsam by Erich Ferdinand , used under CC BY
rain forest by Tadd and Debbie Ottman , used under CC BY
skate egg sacks by Beth Roberts , used under CC BY
shark egg by Jac Stofberg
fishermen by Harvey Barrison , used under CC BY-SA
fish fossil by Michael Popp
under water forest by John Keahey
forest by Elias Gayles , used under CC BY
quarry by Jake Slagle
grasslands by Ruben Holthuijsen , used under CC BY
jungle by Karen Blaha , used under CC BY-SA
ocean by Tiago Fioreze , used under CC BY-SA
walking in quarry by Mike Everhart , used under CC BY
fossils in rock by Rich Tatum , used under CC BY
hand by tooth fossil by Eden Trenor , used under CC BY-SA
shark by Echo Romeo
fossil crab by Rene Sylvestersen , used under CC BY-SA
fossil starfish by Herman Pijpers
beach by Joey Gannon , used under CC BY-SA
house on quarry by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources , used under CC BY-ND
digging in quarry by morebyless , used under CC BY