Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

How Bones Fossilize ... or Don't


  • Title: How Bones Fossilize ... or Don't
  • Air Date: September 27, 2018
  • Series: Smithsonian Science How webcasts, which are designed to connect natural history science and research to upper-elementary and middle-school students.

This video features Paleontologist Kay Behrensmeyer, who specializes in the study of how things fossilize, or don’t. Explore different specimens in one of the world’s largest fossil collections and discover the special set of conditions that shape how and when bones fossilize. Explore how studying modern bones, like those Kay studies in Kenya, can help scientists better understand ecosystems of the past, present, and future.

Teaching Resources

Fossilization – How Fossils Form

National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Life Science

MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

  • MS-LS4-1: Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
  • MS-LS4-2: Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.

Earth Science

MS-ESS1 Earth's Place in the Universe

  • MS-ESS1-4: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth's 4.6-billion-year-old history.

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

  • MS-ESS2-2: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.
Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
Learning Standards
Next Generation Science Standards
Earth Science, Life Science, Paleontology