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Archive for May 15th, 2009

Today we celebrated the 100th year anniversary of the discovery of the strange and bizarre creatures found in the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rockies. These Cambrian creature fossils, over 500 million years old, give us important clues about evolution. They are irresistibly bizarre, and we HAD to recreate them!

Hallucigenia

Hallucigenia

Here David is reading our Charlie’s Playhouse Giant Timeline and Ancient Creature cards to Satori.

Charlie's Playhouse Giant Timeline and Ancient Creature Cards

Charlie's Playhouse Giant Timeline and Ancient Creature Cards

As they read, mama gathers art/craft materials. Then we all choose our own Cambrian creature to make!

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Mama chose the Hallucigenia, daddy the Opabinia, and Satori the Anomalocaris. Davi’s Opabinia is the blue creature, with 5 eyes, segmented body, and the proboscis.

Hallucigenia and 5-eyed Opabinia

Hallucigenia and 5-eyed Opabinia

After mom started making her psychedelic worm, Satori had to make one too. Here’s her Hallucigenia the far right, poor little fellow, its spines got all flattened!

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We had such a blast we rushed in to make more creatures! David is using a pinecone to embed brown scales on his Wiwaxia.

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I helped to add glow-in-the-dark spines on his back.

Wiwaxia with glow in the dark spines

Wiwaxia with glow in the dark spines

Here’s my second creature, the Anomalocaris, a scary super predator of the Cambrian seas with a mouth full of teeth! When scientists first found his fossil, they thought he was 3 separate creatures!

Anomalocaris - a mouth full of teeth!

Anomalocaris - a giant for its time

Wiwaxia Ancient Creature Card

Wiwaxia Ancient Creature Card

And put them all together for our Burgess Shale Cambrian fauna zoo!

Our Burgess Shale Cambrian zoo

Our Burgess Shale Cambrian zoo

One important creature we left out was the Pikaia, which could possibly be the first chordate animal (with a backbone).

Think you are now familiar with the Cambrian Creatures? Try your luck at this Cambrian Creatures game!

Last week we had an absolute blast with our fossil and archaeology studies. Satori has a nice collection of little fossils, and I cannot emphasize how much those ancient fossils made our studies come “alive” and relevant. As she is only 4.5 years old, we’re keeping things simple. As we read math books about the concept of a million/billion, and completed our Universe Wall timeline, I hope she has an idea of how very long ago our universe formed, how long it took earth to form and our tiny, tiny history in all this. With our sediment layer in a jar activity and reading many fossil books, I hope that she understands the power and millions of years in which fossils are actually made.

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Mama, the eager learner herself has been reading tons and watching DVDs, some too complex for a little girl so I watch them while she plays with her toys. I am so proud when she hears the world paleontologist or fossils and she totally perks up and watches with me.

We’re starting our next lesson now. Early life, which started within just a billion years after our earth formed 4.5 years ago! We have fossilized forms from 3.5 billions years ago of simple, one-celled organisms. Some were just blobs, some had cilia or hair-like tails to help them move. While most were microscopic, there is evidence that one single-celled creature was as big as a grape and even left prints!

I couldn’t find any children’s coloring pages of this amazing first life, so I made my own, using the Cartoon History Life Finds its Feet book as a guide. Feel free to print out for a coloring page of your own. Click image for full-size.

Early Life - Prokaryote coloring page

Early Life - Prokaryote coloring page

Satori set to color in the little guys. At first she reached for brown, saying she wanted to color her “fossils” brown, but I quickly stated that this was a picture of early life as they were alive billions of years ago. So she could color them anyway she wanted! (We don’t know the colors of much early life, including dinosaurs.)

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And here’s our latest work of art! (As always, click image for bigger size.)

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