How Are Fossils Formed

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Neil Mackengie

A fossil is the remains of plants and animals preserved in rock. Sometimes they take the form of shells, bones, scales, or other hard parts of animals. Sometimes an entire animal is preserved. Or a fossil can be a film of carbon left by a decaying plant.  It might be the track of” animals walking across the mud.

How Are Fossils Formed

When a plant or animal dies, it gradually disappears. The soft parts decay. The hard parts are worn away by wind and rain. But if the body is covered by sand or other substances, parts of it may be preserved for a long time, and they may become fossils.

Most fossils are remains of plants and animals that lived and died in the water. Their bodies became quickly covered by sand carried in the water. Gradually, more sand and mud covered the bodies, pressing down on the layers of sand underneath. The bottom layers hardened into rock, a form of rock called “sedimentary rock”.

The sedimentary rocks built up very slowly, and the bodies of animals and plants buried in them gradually changed. Minerals from the water-filled in the tiny pores in the bones, or the insides of shells. After the shell had crumbled away, a cast of the shell remained in the rock and so a mold of the outside of the shell remained in the rock. This process may take thousands of years.

On land, the bodies of plants and animals may be covered by blowing sand or perhaps ashes from a volcano. Insects and other small animals may be trapped in sticky sap. If this sap hardens into amber, it preserves the bodies of the animals inside. Larger animals may fall into tar pits or quicksand, and their bodies may be preserved for millions of years.

What Are The 5 Types Of Fossils?

Five different types of fossils are body fossils, molds and casts, petrification fossils, footprints and trackways, and coprolites.

Why are fossils so rare?

Fossils are so rare, in large part because they’re so fragile. Any physical force could break them, so they’re rarely preserved in the fossil record. For most of us, the only fossils we’ve ever seen are the ones in textbooks.

Are fossils hard to find?

Very few people care about fossils, but that is changing. With fossilized remains from dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals becoming more and more common, it is becoming easier to find them. Although there are places to find fossils, such as the Sahara Desert, there are also a lot of places that you can’t exactly cruise to. That is where fossil hunting comes in.

What is the rarest type of fossil?

Is there a type of fossil that is even rarer than a Tyrannosaurus Rex? Well, believe it or not, there is. Okay, maybe not that rare, but there is a type of fossil that is even rarer than a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s called a Triceratops, and while we all know what it looks like, it is an extremely rare fossil. Unfortunately, it’s also an extinct type.

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