Can You Dig It?

Today is National Fossil Day, an annual holiday that helps promote the scientific and educational values of fossils!

What is a fossil? A fossil is the remains or impression of a prehistoric organism preserved in petrified form or as a mold or cast in rock. Fossils are at least 10,000 years old and can be millions of years old!

How are fossils found? By digging! Paleontologists, or scientists that study fossils, often find and dig up fossils of animal bones, insects, plants, and even microscopic organisms using special paleontologist tools. They are very careful not to damage the fossils.

Why are fossils important? Fossils tell us about how the world was long before there were humans. Human fossils only date back around 400,000 years, long after prehistoric dinosaurs roamed the earth. Fossils can tell us how animals and plants evolved, how they survived and can even tell us how certain species went extinct.

How does the Virginia Zoo use fossils? The Virginia Zoo doesn’t use fossils, but instead uses bio-facts to discover diet, body size and even behavior just based on a few of an animal’s petrified bones! They then put animals in groups based on skull and bone characteristics. They work like paleontologists do to perform research, and now you can too!

Anyone can be a paleontologist – no degree required! In fact, there’s an opportunity to find fossils right here in Hampton Roads! The Virginia Zoo is hosting ZooBoo, an annual trick-or-treat and family fun event where kids and adults of all ages are welcome to spend a day at the Zoo in celebration of Halloween!

At ZooBoo on October 21st from 10 am to 6 pm, there will be a Dig Site where your child can dig for fossils using real paleontologist tools! You or your little one can also make dinosaur footprints in the Track Way! And don’t forget to check out the Kill Site where your child can become a Dino Detective by solving the mystery of Who Dunnit?! to figure out who ate whom by using the detective journal.


Most importantly, during their paleontologist trek, your child will learn all about how fossils are made and which prehistoric creatures are still alive today! Last year’s fossil dig sites were such a hit, and are definitely a must-do during your day at ZooBoo. Buy your tickets today and don’t miss out on this fun and education opportunity!