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Badlands National Park: Kylie's Fossil Find *Teacher Resources: PowerPoint & Lesson Plan
*Additional Lesson Plans/Teacher Resources
*Curriculum Materials
*Badlands Photostream
*SDPB - The Badlands: Nature's Time Capsule (Documentary)

In May 2010, a seven year girl named Kylie found a fossil near the visitor center at Badlands National Park. She did the right thing. She reported her find to rangers. It turned out to be an exceptionally rare and well-preserved saber tooth cat fossil.

As your students learn about fossils, this nonfiction story will help them understand the science of paleontology and the importance of protecting our natural resources. Furthermore, they may be able to better identify with the real life story of another young student.

(Badlands, National Park, junior ranger programs, Kylie Ferguson, fossil, ranger, fossilized bone, Paleontologists, saber tooth cat skull, hard rock called limestone, dig, Hoplophoneus (HOP-LOW-PHONE-EE-US), erosion, buried, butte, fragmented, rare, protect, excavate, lab, specimen, museum)
Badlands National Park: Secrets of the Past *Secrets of the Past Lesson Plan
*Lesson Plans/Teacher Resources
*Curriculum Materials
*Geology of the Badlands
*Badlands Photostream
*SDPB - The Badlands: Nature's Time Capsule (Documentary)

Secrets of the Past: An Introductory Lesson (Badlands Earth History, Grades K-8)

Students watch a six minute ranger video about the Badlands. Students create a “flipbook” by arranging the Badlands rock layer pages, ancient depositional environments, and fossilized animals in chronological order. Students gain an understanding and appreciation of Badlands Earth history by completing this lesson. Students will be able to describe how the Badlands rock layers were deposited over time by ancient environments. Students will match ancient environments and fossilized animals to the corrolating rock layer/time period in Earth’s history. Students will be able to describe how the modern processes of weathering and erosion shape the Badlands.

National Science Standards
K-4: Earth and Space Science: Content Standard D: As a result of their activities in grades K-4, all students should develop an understanding of properties of earth materials and changes in earth and sky.
5-8: Earth and Space Science: Content Standard D: As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop an understanding of structure of the earth system and Earth’s history.

South Dakota Science Standards
K.E.1.1; 1.E.1.2; 2.E.1.2; 3.L.3.4; 4.L.2.1; 5.L.3.1; 6.E.1.3; 7.L.3.1; 8.E.1.5
Geology of the Badlands *Lesson Plans/Teacher Resources
*Curriculum Materials
*Badlands Photostream
*SDPB - The Badlands: Nature's Time Capsule (Documentary)

The Badlands are well known for their amazing scenery. The rugged Badlands wall, towering spires and deep canyons offer plenty of breathtaking views. But how did the Badlands form? The simple explanation lies in two geologic processes: Deposition & Erosion.

Deposition began 75 million years ago when the Western Interior Seaway covered what is now the Great Plains. Over time, the mud of the deeply buried sea floor hardened into shale. When the Rocky Mountains rose, the ancient sea retreated. Today paleontologists find fossils of clams, ammonites, and marine reptiles in the Pierre Shale.

Once the water was gone, the sea floor was exposed to air. Plants grew and ancient animals roamed the land. The exposed mud weathered into a tropical soil. The Yellow Mounds are evidence of this ancient ecosystem.

Next we have the rolling gray hills of the Chadron Formation. At this time, the environment was still warm and humid. Huge meandering rivers carried tons of sediment from the Black Hills. The sediment was deposited here because this area was once a low point, a geologic basin.

From 34 to 30 million years ago, the climate shifted from sub-tropical to cooler and drier. River channels and wind-blown sediments deposited the Brule formation. As the rivers flooded -- sand, silt, and mud piled up. Many fossils from the “Golden Age of Mammals” such as ancient rhinos, horses, and saber tooth cats are preserved in these layers.

The very highest peaks in the Badlands are the Sharps Formation. The Rockyford Ash came from huge volcanic eruptions to the West. As the ash erodes, it forms bentonite clay, which makes the badlands mud very sticky

An ancient sea, rivers, flood plains, and wind-blown volcanic ash deposited sediment here 75 to 25 million years ago. Eventually those sediments hardened into sedimentary rock layers. But that is only part of the story. Today the forces of erosion shape the Badlands. Starting approximately 500,000 years ago, modern rivers began to cut down into the prairie, carving the Badlands. Different rock types erode at different rates. Harder rocks like sandstone and limestone erode slower then softer rocks like mudstone. This mix of rock types causes dramatic rock formations such as windows, balancing rocks, and mushroom shaped hoodoos.

Deposition and Erosion – Those two powerful forces have shaped the Badlands landscape over millions of years. Enjoy the scenery today as you continue to learn more about its geologic past.

The Badlands: Nature's Time Capsule Go here for more information and resources

The Badlands of South Dakota are a masterpiece created by the elements: sculpted from the earth by water and wind.

The Badlands: Nature's Time Capsule examines: Geological "artforms" 75 million years in the making. The inhabitants who have called the area home. Modern-day preservation efforts.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Education and Outreach Department
(800) 456-0766 | Edservices@sdpb.org