How to Make Fossils Using Plaster of Paris

Written by k. d. wicks
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How to Make Fossils Using Plaster of Paris
Fossils like this one form over thousands of years. (National Biological Information Infrastructure (

Fossils are the remains of long dead plants and animals found in rock. They range from faint impressions of leaves to gigantic dinosaur bones. Scientists study fossils to learn more about extinct species and past time periods in Earth's history. Real fossils take thousands of years to form, but you can make your own imitation fossils with plaster of Paris. This could be useful if you want to teach children about fossils or think one would look neat on a shelf but don't want to pay a high price.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Small objects to fossilize (chicken bone, shell, leaf, twig)
  • Waxed paper
  • Modeling clay
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Petroleum jelly or vegetable oil
  • Mixing bowl and spoon

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  1. 1

    Place a large ball of clay on a piece of waxed paper for each item you want to make a fossil of. Flatten the ball.

  2. 2

    Press the object into the clay, about half way, then remove.

  3. 3

    Apply a small amount of vegetable oil or petroleum jelly to the impression. This will keep the fossil from sticking.

  4. 4

    Prepare the plaster of Paris according to the package instructions. It should have the consistency of pancake batter.

  5. 5

    Fill the impression with plaster of Paris. If it spills over onto the clay that is OK.

  6. 6

    Allow the plaster to dry and harden overnight.

  7. 7

    Peel the clay away from the plaster fossil.

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