Fossils are formed when an animal dies and falls to the ground. That’s when other animals in the world stomp all over the bones. The bones are covered in dirt, creature waste, mud and rock. The rock forms around the bone and sucks out the water from the bone. So when people find fossils they’re actually rock because the rock takes the shape of the bone.
The first almost or fully complete dinosaur was the famous Ichthyosaurus. Discovered by Mary Anning and a dog that probably reminded her of her father. Then the dog disappeared because its job was done. Most people don’t think that 12 year old girl found the rare Ichthyosaurus but she did find the creature in 1812. Some people say it was her brother Joseph, not the dog, who helped her find it on the cliff of Lyme Regis.
At first Joan Wiffen found only sea creatures. In 1975 Joan Wiffen found her first land dinosaur fossil in the Mangahouanga Stream near Napier. She used it to prove there were actually dinosaurs living in New Zealand a long time ago. After several years Dr Ralph Molnar confirmed in 1980 what Joan had hoped. That she finally found a tail bone of a land dinosaur. She found a tail bone of a theropod. After a while she had more successes of finding air and land creatures. She found the following: sauropod, pterosaur and a bit of the foot from another or maybe the same theropod.
If you want to know more about Mary Anning you could read Stone Girl Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt
If you’re in a New Zealand school you could read Level 3 School Journal, September 2012