FINGERFULS OF TRILOBITES
This is another of a number of posts replacing activity sessions which we have had to cancel. Fingerfossils is a Creeping Toad event in conjunction with Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and Stone and Water. Based in Buxton in the Peak District, we all collaborate and support each other as we can, working closely with the Babbling Vagabonds and The Green Man Gallery. If you enjoy this activity, try visiting the others for more ideas!
Buxton is built on, and often, of, limestone, limestone that was formed in ancient tropical seas. 300 million years ago when our stone was being made there were no dinosaurs, no pteradactyls or tyrannosaurs, no giant reptiles swimming in prehistoric seas. Those ancient seas were still full of life and Buxton Museum has a wonderful collection of fossils from Carboniferous Seas. There are ammonites and lamellibranchs, corals and crinoids and trilobites. Trilobites are quite rare in our stones but they are there and are such fascinating animals they will be our first puppets in this session
Making your own trilobites
You will need:
- Some scrap card – doesn’t need to be big but card that can fold without cracking is good
- drawing pencil
- Coloured pencils or pens
- A small stapler or roll of sticky tape
Step 1: draw your trilobite
Fold the card in half longways and draw half a trilobite against the fold. You could use one of these photos for ideas or look up trilobite on the web -there were lots of different types: large, small, smooth, spiky, lumpy…..
Keep the card folded and cut out the trilobite
Step 2: add some colour
Flatten out the card, copy your design onto the plain half and then colour it in. We don’t know what colours trilobites were. They might have been camouflaged – sandy, seaweedy, rocky colours. They might have been bright as rainbows – we don’t know. You can decide!
Step 3: fitting onto fingers
Use a piece of scrap card to cut a stirp about 1cm wide and maybe 12 cm long. Roll this into a ring that will slide easily up and down a finger. Position the ring on the underside of the trilobite, about the middle, slip your stapler in and fix in place. No stapler? You could tape it in place instead, or glue it. You can always tape over staples if you worry that they might scratch your finger.
Step 4: Trilobite adventures
Now put the trilobite on your finger and set off to tell a trilobite tale! If you have a garden, you might go exploring (add another trilobite as a friend?). Through the undersea flowerbeds of the Back Garden Ocean. Past the lair of the Terrible Worms (= compost heap), over the Muddy Wellington Boots of Despair. No garden? How about a swim across the sandy seafloor of The Bed, clamber over the Coral Reef of Cushions, slide down the Book Mountains and onto the Carpet Wastes
If you are looking at pictures of Carboniferous Sea Creatures, you might have a go at some others. Eurypterids might be made in the same way as trilobites but with bigger card. Some of those spectacular sharks and fishes we’ll look at in the next activity – or you could create yourself just now
Why not try an ammonite? Like an octopus in a shell – look at Nautilus on a film platform. Nautilus have survived for hundreds of millions of years. The ammonites were their cousins – growing large (up to 2 m across) and tough, they lasted right through to the end of dinosaur days
Step 1: Ammonite shells
Fold card in half
Draw a shell on the card and cut out through both pieces of card so you have 2 shells.
Step 2: colour
Set the shells side by side and colour them in – make sure you lie them down as mirror images – facing each other so they make a pair
Step 3: tentacles
I used an extra piece of card to make a tentacly head (with wobbly eyes) that I rolled into my finger-tube
Step 4: fitting it all together
Then I stapled the top of the shells together and fitted them on the tentacle ring. I used two extra bits of cards to add two longer tentacles (like a squid or cuttlefish).
what story waits here….
Enjoy! Why not send us photos of any finger-fossils you make or record their adventures on a phone and send them in?
Reach us either at
Coming soon –
something monstrous swimming in those ancient Carboniferous Seas as we look at how to make your own prehistoric sharks and fabulous finned fishes