La Brea Tar Pits museum will remain closed until further notice. The park at La Brea Tar Pits is currently open and visitors can currently see paleontologists working at our excavation site weekly.  See NHMLAC's response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Make Your Own Fossil Skull Puppet

Dire Wolf Wall
Dire Wolf Wall
Museum
One: yes, dire wolves are real. Two: we have a lot of specimens, like enough to make up an entire wall. Three: this isn’t even a quarter of them.

suggested for early learners and elementary school students (with parent help)

In this activity, you can make your own fossil skull puppet! A fossil is evidence of life that is at least 10,000 years old. Fossils found at the La Brea Tar Pits are unique because they are not mineralized, such as a dinosaur fossil you might see at the Natural History Museum. Fossils at the La Brea Tar Pits all have the distinct “La Brea Brown” coloring because the asphalt actually soaks into the bone and preserves it as it stains it.

Want to learn more about La Brea fossils? Check out what happens in the Fossil Lab!

Materials

  • Clothespins (order online)

  • Scissors

  • Crayons/markers (optional)

  • Glue stick (or glue dots work well also!)

  • Fossil skull template (use our template below or search for your favorite!)

Instructions

1. Make or choose a skull template. 
Print our fossil skull sketch or print or draw your own! If you want to add some color to your fossil, color it before cutting it out. After coloring, cut out the upper and lower jaws. Create your own by sketching a skull in profile and cutting out the lower jaw and the upper skull. Or print a skull in profile (like the one below!) and cut out the upper and lower jaws. 

2. Assemble your puppet.
Apply some glue to the inner corner of the lower jaw. The joint of the jaw should match the joint of the clothespin, so adhere the lower jaw and upper jaw opposite each other on the clothespin just above the metal spring.

3. You’ve made a Fossil Skull puppet!
Pinch the ends of the clothespin to see your biting skull in action!