Fossils & The LawFossilization

To many people, any object dug out of the ground is considered a fossil. Cattle bones, precious stones and artefacts such as arrowheads are often mistakenly referred to as fossils.

By definition, fossils include only the remains and traces of ancient, once-living organisms. To qualify as a fossil, a specimen usually must be more than 10,000 years old. Out of all the millions of species that evolved and lived on this planet since life first began 3.5 billion years ago—out of all the billions upon billions of individual organisms—very few have been preserved as fossils.

To become fossilized, plant or animal remains must be rapidly buried. Organisms that lack hard body parts, such as bones, scales, teeth or shells, are rarely preserved. Soft body parts such as skin, muscle tissue and organs decompose rapidly and are often consumed by predators before fossilization can take place.

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