|This page is about a topic that relates to science, and is not about a particular type of organism.|
Fossils, or fossilization, is the process of a dead animals carcass turning to stone over the time span of thousands, or millions of years.
Fossilization is generally described in two or three steps. First the animal or plant dies. The animal plant starts the decaying. When only the skeleton/impressions of the organism remain, the become quickly covered by sediment. Over the course of millions of years the remains turn to rock. Erosion gradually uncovers the fossilized remains, exposing the carcass were a paleontologist or archaeologist can extract it from the ground for study.
Why Study Them? Edit
Since before the 1800s, scientists have been finding fossils all over the world. Fossils can tell us many things: the height, weight or length of an animal, the appearance of an animal and even what they ate. Fossils like coprolites are fossilized fecal matter that tell use about the diet of fossilized animals. Fossils of partial individuals are called 'subfossils'.
Types of Fossil Edit
- Fossil egg shells: Fossilized eggshells.
- Trackways: Sets of fossilized animal footprints, sometimes in large herds or packs.
- Amber or resin: Fossilized tree resin, called amber, that can sometimes preserve plants and animals.
- Index fossils: Fossils that represent a change or date of the time era they lived in.
- Trace fossils: Fossils left from an organism, like scales, footprints and eggs.
- Transitional fossils: Fossils that show traits both in it's ancestral, and descendant groups.
- Microfossils: Microscopic fossils, usually of tiny organisms and spores
- Derived/Reworked/Remanié: Acquired later than the animals death date, or eroded out of rock.
- Petrified wood: Fossilized wood.
- Subfossils: Partial fossil skeletons; ranging from missing a few bones, to most of the organism.
- Chemical fossils: Fossils that provide preserved chemical composition in prehistoric materials.