I use owl pellets as a lab in my Forensic Anthropology unit! I think this is a great analogy of how careful you would have to be in an excavation. You may or may not find a complete skeleton. You may have multiple skeletons. You have to be very careful to not damage any of your "evidence." And if you don't do your job thoroughly, you can leave a lot of evidence behind.
This is the owl pellet before it is broken up too much. Most students are very timid and don't want to touch the owl pellet at the beginning. After finding a few bones, most of them will get over it, and dig in. I give the students a couple of pieces of white paper and a brown paper bag. One pieces of paper is to work on. One piece of paper is for the bones they find. And the paper bag is for their "Trash" which we do not throw away until the very end. Often students need to go back through their trash before they turn in their final product.
Then students try to assemble the most complete skeleton they can.
Some students pay attention to the details and make impressive looking reconstructions ....
Others see it all as "the blob of useless bones ..." (This was actually the first time I had this after doing this lab for 4 years.)
Most of my kids said they did this in junior high, but were never asked to reconstruct, and most found this to be a very challenging task.
I would love to find a great video about owl pellets, but haven't been able to find one that I love yet.